It's a great deal to be an arbitration-eligible baseball player. You can be terrible or be hurt and you will probably still find a way to get a raise. The Orioles settled on 2015 contracts with three of their players who were either terrible or hurt last year and sure enough, they all got raises. They avoided arbitration with Chris Davis, Brian Matusz, and Matt Wieters. They also settled with Chris Tillman, who was neither terrible nor hurt. That leaves the team with six arbitration-eligible players still to sign.
Players and teams will be exchanging numbers on Friday. The four O's who settled this afternoon were in that last flurry before that step was taken. Hearings, if it gets to that point, will take place during the month of February. Some teams in baseball are so-called "file and trial" teams because once they exchange numbers, they will go to trial. The Orioles are not one of those teams.
Davis will make $12 million in 2015, up from his $10.35M salary last year. Matusz gets $3.2 million, which is 33% more than his $2.4M salary from a year ago. Wieters will get an increase from $7.7 million to $8.3M. For Tillman, a first-time arbitration-eligible player, there will be a nice bump from $546,000 all the way up to $4.315 million.
That sounds like a modest salary by baseball player standards for Tillman, but it's actually quite an impressive raise. That amount will represent the second-highest salary for a first-year arbitration pitcher ever, behind only David Price, who got over $10 million his first go-round in arbitration.
If you're left-handed and have a pulse, you can probably get a job pitching in baseball. As a lefty, perhaps I should have stuck with the whole pitching thing a bit longer. Matusz, a disappointment, will get $3.2 million! Please don't let him try to earn that salary in any postseason appearances, should the Orioles be fortunate enough to get another one.
Between Davis, Matusz, and Wieters, the numbers are a bit higher than those that were projected by MLBTR's Matt Swartz, adding about a million dollars in salary over the estimated number that everyone has been working with. That's offset by the fact that they got Tillman signed for nearly a million dollars less than his projection. The other Oriole to settle, Tommy Hunter, also came in a bit higher than the estimate.
The system is such that you get a raise almost automatically. If you perform better you will get more of a raise. So in that sense it's not surprising that these players get raises, especially not Tillman. After all, they all toiled along at near the minimum salary for three seasons before starting to get more money. Well, not Matusz; his major-league deal when he was drafted started him out at $1.3 million, which is why his arbitration salaries are higher as well. The higher the baseline, the higher your future raises will go.
The O's players still left to settle are: Alejandro De Aza, Steve Pearce, Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez, Ryan Flaherty, and Zach Britton. Their projected salaries range from $1 million for Flaherty to $8.7 million for Norris.