Reliever Arbitration Salaries On The Rise?
Image courtesy of Adam Hunger USA TodayWe already know teams will delay calling up prospects in an effort to gain an extra year of team of control/delay a player's arbitration eligibility, but should they also make an effort to keep players affordable in their arbitration seasons? Are they already doing this?
Counting stats still weigh heavily in arbitration cases, and one of the biggest gaps in arbitration salaries is between relievers with saves and those without. A lot of Twins fans are holding out hope that J.T. Chargois can elevate himself to be the team's closer at some point in 2017. But if that were to happen, and Chargois spends something like two and a half seasons as a closer, he's going to be very expensive by the time he becomes arbitration eligible.
Brandon Kintzler is still in arbitration as well, so in terms of future salary considerations, Glen Perkins taking back over as closer would be the ideal scenario. The Twins have a $6.5M option on Perkins for 2018 whether he gets four saves or 40.
Even going forward from next year and beyond, this issue of whether or not to put a pre-arb or arb-elligible pitcher in the closer role will be interesting to follow.
Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Twins have a number of relievers in the minors who should be ready to make an impact soon. Will the team thrust one of them into the ninth inning, or opt to sign affordable vetetans to fill that role instead?
Maybe by then it's not going to matter.
The case of Betances v. Yankees
On Friday, there's a baseball player in Florida who is challenging the system. It's not at a spring training complex, but rather at an arbitration hearing.
Yankee reliever Dellin Betances became arbitration eligible for the first time this off season. He filed for $5 million, the team for $3 million. Often these differences are resolved and both parties agree to a salary somewhere in the middle (as the Twins did with all their arb guys), but not in this case. In an arbitration hearing, one side wins the other loses. There is no compromise in the middle.
Typically another team's arbitration case wouldn't garner even the faintest interest from me, but I've been looking forward to this one.
Having guys like David Robertson, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman around have made it pretty difficult for Betances to get saves. He has 22 of them over his career. It's clear by looking at his ERA and ratios that Betances is a rare bird no matter what inning he pitches, but those things don't typically play up in arbitration.
Back in 2014, Kenley Jansen asked the Dodgers for $5.05M in his first year of arbitration, they offered $3.5M. Jansen eventually agreed to a $4.3M contract. Given the similarities of 2014 Kenley Jansen and current day Betances, I'd say it's a good bet he could have gotten $4.3M.
But Betances has dug in his heels, and even delayed his arrival at spring training (with approval from the team) so he can prepare for and attend his hearing. If he wins, it could represent a victory for setup men and middle relievers across the league. There aren't many other pitchers on Betances' level, but a rising tide lifts all boats.
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