Baseball’s salary arbitration process is generally a good thing in that it can help young and productive players get the money they deserve well before they are allowed to test the free market.
It also presents some hilarious situations.
According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times, the Angels avoided arbitration Wednesday with catcher Jeff Mathis by agreeing to a one-year, $1.7 million contract.
Mathis, 27, batted just .195 with a .291 on-base percentage and .278 slugging percentage last season and also played poor defense behind the plate. In truth, he might have been the worst player in baseball to register more than 200 plate appearances.
But that’s how arbitration goes. Mathis made $1.3 million last season in his first year of eligibility and he will probably get a raise next season as well no matter what kind of results he turns in this year.
Unless, of course, the Angels want to non-tender him and risk another team picking him up as a free agent. One would have to assume that manager Mike Scioscia would be against that type of move because, after all, he was the one that allowed Mathis to play so often in 2010.
On Monday, Cubs catcher Willson Contreras showed he was very confident heading into the 2018 season, saying, “I know that I’m going to be better than [Yadier Molina and Buster Posey].” Contreras explained that his goal is to become “the best catcher in the game for a long time — like it was with Yadier Molina, like it is with Buster Posey.”
Apparently, Contreras ruffled Molina’s feathers as the Cardinals’ veteran backstop took to Instagram to respond. Posting a picture of himself with Buster Posey and Salvador Perez, Molina wrote, “Respeten los rangos NOVATOS!! aqui con los q si han probao que son los duros!!” That loosely translates to “respect the ranks,” referring to Contreras as a novice.
Molina is no stranger to using Instagram to air his grievances. He apparently used the social media app to take a swipe or two at manager Mike Matheny last year.
Of course, Molina seems to be misreading the intent of Contreras. Contreras seems to think highly of Molina, having referred to him as being one of the best catchers in the game — even if it was in the past tense. Molina should know, being someone who also competes at the highest level, that having confidence is an important part of the recipe for success. Perhaps this will make for some interesting games during the season, breathing new life into the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.