Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported last week that the Diamondbacks and second baseman Kelly Johnson had scheduled an arbitration hearing for Tuesday, February 15. According to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, that was one day off.
The two sides have officially set up a hearing for Wednesday, February 16.
Johnson requested a $6.5 million salary and was offered $4.7 million when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There hasn’t been much movement toward a middle ground, but that could change as the hearing date looms. Front office folks don’t like when cases go to arbitration hearings because the clubs are then forced to point out the shortcomings in one of their own players in order to try to win the decision. It can turn ugly, or at least unpleasant.
Johnson, 29 later this month, posted a strong .284/.370/.496 batting line last season for Arizona with a career-high 26 home runs and 71 RBI over 671 plate appearances. He earned $2.35 million.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.