MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.
Drew Smyly requested $3.75 million and was offered $3.2 million from the Rays’ front office when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That is a relatively small gap, but sometimes those small gaps are the hardest to close because neither side sees reason to budge.
Which is how we got to our first salary arbitration hearing of 2016 …
The two sides presented their cases in Phoenix, Arizona to arbitrators Elizabeth Neumeier, Andrew Strongin, and Phillip LaPorte. Teams like to avoid having to make those presentations because they can get personal and hurt feelings. That’s the nature of this system — an organization must argue why it doesn’t think one of its players deserves as much money as that player desires.
Smyly missed a large chunk of the 2015 season with a labrum tear in his left shoulder, but he posted a cool 3.11 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 77 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings (12 starts) when healthy. The 26-year-old left-hander boasts a 2.52 ERA in 114 1/3 innings since being traded from Detroit to Tampa Bay in mid-2014.
Smyly was eligible for arbitration for the second time as a Super Two.
He is under contractual control with the Rays through 2018.
Louis Coleman registered an outstanding 2.69 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 10.3 K/9 over his first 140 1/3 major league innings from 2011-2013, but it fell apart for him in 2014 and he made just four appearances at the big league level in 2015. Now, for the first time in his professional career, the right-hander is going to have to find a new team.
Coleman was designated for assignment by the Royals last Friday to clear a 40-man roster spot for new starting pitcher Ian Kennedy and on Wednesday the 29-year-old reliever officially got handed his release.
The past success should net Coleman multiple offers on the open market, but it’s a safe bet that they will all be of the non-guaranteed minor league contract variety. He can then try to win a bullpen job somewhere during spring training.
Coleman had a shiny 1.69 ERA in 64 innings last year at Triple-A Omaha.
As first reported by Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with veteran left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima. The deal does not come with an invitation to major league camp.
Most figured Okajima was done with baseball in the United States when he returned to his native Japan after appearing in just five games with the Oakland Athletics during the 2013 season. But the 40-year-old southpaw wants to give it another run.
Okajima posted a cool 3.09 ERA in 250 1/3 innings between the Red Sox and A’s from 2007-2013, holding left-handed batters to a .223/.281/.333 slash line.
He will operate as organizational lefty relief depth for the O’s.
This was Familia’s first year of arbitration eligibility, and there will be two more to follow. He requested $4.8 million and was offered $3.3 million from the Mets when figures were exchanged on January 15. It took about three weeks for the two sides to find a compromise.
Familia emerged as one of the best closers in baseball last year, posting a 1.85 ERA and 86/19 K/BB ratio in 78 regular-season innings for the eventual National League champions. He also tallied 43 regular-season saves.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that the 26-year-old right-hander is now the highest-paid reliever in history with only one full season at closer under his belt. The previous king under those parameters was Orioles closer Zach Britton, who pulled in a $3.2 million salary in 2015. It’s a record that will likely keep breaking as baseball’s basic economics explode upward and young fireballers continue to dominate the ninth-inning game.