We’ve seen a lot of “Team and Player agree to one year deal, avoiding arbitration” stories in the past few days and we’ll see many more today. 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 in mid-February — the arbitration panel will pick one of the two numbers. There is no in between.
Even if there is no agreement before 1pm today, most players and teams will still nonetheless come to an agreement avoiding an arbitration hearing. In negotiated cases, yes, the sides can agree on a number between the player’s and the team’s. More often than not these cases result in agreements at 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 this afternoon, 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 an arbitration hearing. 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 today. If it bores you, you’re not alone. It kinda bores us too. But it also means that we’re one more step closer to actual baseball being played.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.