The last time that the Orioles lost an arbitration case, before today, was more than two decades ago. Bryan Adams was atop the music charts with “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman?” and the reigning top movie at the box office was Casper when Ben McDonald beat the Orioles in 1995. The streak is over, with Brad Brach triumphing in this year’s case.
Brach’s hearing was Thursday. He filed for a $3.05 million salary, where the Orioles countered with a $2.525 million salary. You may remember that the team claimed to be employing a “file and trial” approach this season, but they ended up settling later with Kevin Gausman.
The Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo Encina reported yesterday that there were also last-minute discussions with Brach’s camp to avoid a hearing. So it seems the Orioles “file and trial” was just a lot of exaggerating.
In an arbitration hearing, the two sides present their cases based on comparable players salaries and raises to an independent panel. The panel decides either one or the other. Although the process has occasionally caused hard feelings elsewhere in baseball, Brach told Orioles reporters there was nothing like that in his case:
“It wasn’t as bad as we were expecting it to be. It’s not like they sit there and bash you for an hour long. They just bring up, it seemed like now it was a lot of metrics. so it was a lot of stuff I don’t understand.”
About the settlement discussions, Brach told the assembled reporters that he had a number he felt he was worth after last season and the Orioles never met it. “If there’s a year to go, being an All-Star like I was last year and having the numbers I thought I put up, I figured it was a good year to go,” he said. And he was right.
An interesting footnote to Brach’s hearing win is that the Orioles counsel who had been in charge for the two decade-long undefeated streak, H. Russell Smouse, retired before this year’s hearings, so he was not involved. Smouse was 8-0 in his years in charge.
Brach’s arbitration triumph kicks the current Orioles estimated Opening Day payroll to $164 million, about $17 million more than last season.