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.