The hot stove is not exactly going as most of us expected it to go, and I usually can only speak for myself but I think I’m comfortable saying that this winter is slowly killing each and every one of us. Either that or we’re already dead and this is purgatory. Regardless, even if the hot stove doesn’t pick up when it’s supposed to there are some parts of the offseason that have no choice but staying on schedule. One of those is arbitration, the archaic payment system in baseball that either needs a massive reform or needs to be removed altogether. But until I get my rightful position atop the Player’s Union I’m stuck simply complaining into the void. Anywho, today is the deadline for teams and players to exchange their figures for arbitration salaries.
For those that have never really been too sure how arbitration works but have been too embarrassed to ask, don’t ever be embarrassed. We’re all morons in our own unique ways. Arbitration is how salary is determined for players who have been in the league for at least three years — or two years for some, but we won’t get into that right now. The way it works is that teams and players each determine a salary that they think is fair, then they present said salaries along with a case to a panel of arbiters who then pick a winner. Because we live in a dumb, dumb world, these arbiters largely lean on counting stats and awards. Another key trend in this is that it is extremely rare for a player to receive a pay cut in arbitration. In fact, it may never happen but I don’t want to say that for sure because then someone will prove me wrong in the comments and I’ll cry. Of course, most players don’t actually go to trial, as the figures that are eventually exchanged are generally close enough where teams and players will meet in the middle and agree to a deal before going to a trial. The Red Sox rarely go to a trial, though they did take on Fernando Abad last year.
For many teams, this deadline doesn’t really mean a ton. They’ve been negotiating with their arbitration-eligible players all winter long and they shouldn’t be too surprised by any figure they receive from any player. Some teams, though, treat this as a hard deadline to negotiate a deal. These teams are known as “file-and-trial” teams and it is among the most absurd strategies employed across the league. Thankfully, the Red Sox are not among those teams. Over the years some teams who have employed this strategy are the Braves, White Sox, Reds and of course, the Orioles.
This is a particularly busy offseason for the Red Sox arbitration wise. They came into the offseason with 13 players eligible for arbitration, and thus far only three have avoided a trial with a deal. Those players are Tyler Thornburg, Steven Wright and Carson Smith. The following players are still waiting on their official 2018 salary:
- Mookie Betts
- Xander Bogaerts
- Drew Pomeranz
- Jackie Bradley Jr.
- Eduardo Rodriguez
- Christian Vazquez
- Sandy Leon
- Joe Kelly
- Brock Holt
- Brandon Workman
I’ll update this post if/when we hear reported figures that are exchanged. I’ll also recruit your help in the comments with this task, because I will surely miss some. We’ll also, of course, keep you posted if/when anyone avoids arbitration with a deal. It’s not the hot stove, but how can you not be excited by a system that should have been left in the 20th century?!