The Orioles will head into their “file and trial” era of arbitration with six hearings on their plate. They reached an agreement on a 2017 contract with the three most expensive players, Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Chris Tillman, on Friday afternoon before their newly-imposed deadline on negotiation. Their remaining arbitration-eligible players, including Kevin Gausman, will be headed to hearings.
Whether the switch to no further negotiation once numbers are formally exchanged is a good or bad thing remains to be seen. With many of their eligible players headed to hearings, we’ll find out in a hurry whether it’s a good or a bad thing.
For those who are still holding on to some hope that the Orioles and Machado may be able to come together on a contract extension, their being able to successfully negotiate a 2017 salary is at least a minimum condition met.
The Orioles settled with Machado for an $11.5 million salary for the upcoming season. Britton will receive an $11.4 million salary for the 2017 season. That’s exactly what MLB Trade Rumors had predicted Britton would get. Machado gets $300k more than his projection. Tillman will receive a $10.05 million salary - that’s almost $600k less than expected.
Hours after the filing deadline, news came out that the Orioles settled on a 2017 contract with Jonathan Schoop as well. Schoop is set to make $3.475 million. That’s very close to the $3.4 million that Schoop was projected to receive.
Baltimore Baseball’s Dan Connolly reported that, during the course of the Britton negotiations, they had some preliminary talks exploring a multi-year deal. It’s not clear whether that would have covered any of Britton’s free agent eligibility, but either way, the talks “did not go far,” according to Connolly, so the O’s and Britton will do this dance again a year from now.
Previously, the Orioles have tended to negotiate with their arbitration-eligible players up to the deadline of the hearing itself and usually reached an agreement around the midpoint of what the two sides requested. That won’t be happening this year.
The three remaining arbitration-eligible players who didn’t settle on contracts are Gausman, Brad Brach, and Caleb Joseph.
The team settled with a couple of players on the lower end of the salary scale on Thursday night, agreeing on 2017 contracts with Ryan Flaherty ($1.8 million) and T.J. McFarland ($685k).
What is the point of wasting time going to a hearing over a couple hundred thousand dollars with Joseph? That’s a question to which I don’t have an answer.
The Orioles haven’t lost an arbitration hearing since 1995. Before now, they haven’t often gone to hearings, though. The last one was Alejandro De Aza two years ago. Before that, it was Brad Bergesen in 2012. They will be putting that record to the test now.
With the O’s settling with the three players up over $10 million, the stakes aren’t super high for their 2017 payroll for the remaining cases. That doesn’t mean there’s no potential contentiousness as the hearings happen, just that there’s not going to be much uncertainty for the O’s for the payroll.
Will the little bit of uncertainty that remains affect how the O’s pursue the remaining free agents on the market? That’s only possible if they were actually going to sign anyone else who might matter anyway.