We’ve seen a lot of “Team and Player agree to one year deal, avoiding arbitration” stories this week. The reason: today is the deadline for all arbitration-eligible players and their teams to exchange salary figures.
For those who forgot or never knew, the arbitration-eligible players say they’re worth $X. The teams says they’re worth $Y, with $X and $Y being set as of today. If they can’t agree to a deal between now and their arbitration hearing date — with the hearings taking place between February 4 and February 20 — the arbitration panel will pick one of the two numbers. There is no in between.
Most players and teams will come to an agreement avoiding an arbitration hearing. There can be an in between for negotiated resolutions. In these cases, the agreements will almost always be around the mid-point between the player’s number and the team’s number.
Some teams, however, are what they call “file and trial” teams, meaning that as a matter of team policy, they will not negotiate after arbitration figures are filed, preferring to let the arbitrators sort it out. For them, today is the drop-dead day. If they don’t hammer out a deal with their players, they are going to arbitration. In the past, file-and-trial teams have included the White Sox, Marlins, Rays and Braves.
Anyway, that’s what’s happening with all of these arbitration-avoiding deals.
The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.
It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.
Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).”
Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.
Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.