Zach Britton is the latest Orioles player to settle his 2015 contract without needing to go to a hearing. He and the Orioles reached an agreement on Wednesday evening on a $3.2 million salary for the 2015 season. Britton had requested a $4.2 million salary for the season, with the O's countering at $2.2 million. Once again, team and player met halfway.
Britton is eligible for arbitration for the first time this season. He qualifies as what's known as a Super Two player, which means he will get four years of arbitration rather than the typical three. If he keeps performing like he did in 2014, that fourth year will get expensive. That would be a fine problem for the team to have in a couple years time. For now, he is not a luxury expense.
It's a nice raise over last year's $521,500 for Britton. That is how arbitration works.
Little surprise that Britton broke out in a big way in 2014. Dedicated to pitching in relief, he averaged 95.1 miles per hour on his fastball, three mph higher than he'd ever averaged before. Able to work more on his sinker rather than secondary offerings, he took an already strong ground ball tendency to an extreme, getting grounders 75.3% of the time. That is actually ridiculous.
It all added up to a 1.65 regular season ERA and 37 saves, with another couple of saves in the postseason, including that awesome Buck Showalter-predicted double play to end the ALDS against the Tigers. He held batters to a .148/.248/.252 batting line. Have I mentioned that's ridiculous?
When the process began, the O's had 11 players who were eligible for arbitration. They've now pared it down to where the only one left to settle is outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who submitted a salary of $5,650,000 with the team offering $5 million. Reports from O's beat writers have indicated this one could end up in a hearing, although I have no idea why it would.
Britton's contract puts the Orioles at a $112.6 million payroll for the upcoming season, not counting De Aza or any pre-arbitration players who will be on the roster. They are estimated to end up with a $121.2 million Opening Day payroll when all is said and done.