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 book heading into the series was that the Dodgers’ starters needed to come up big for them due to questions in the bullpen and that the Brewers’ bullpen was going to dominate Dodgers batters, so they had best do what they can to score off of Milwaukee’s starters. So, of course, the Dodgers starters turned in performances of three and four and a third innings and eight of their nine runs the Brewers have given up have come from their relievers. I dunno, man. It’s baseball. It lends itself to anticipatory analysis worse than any other sport.
All I do know for sure is that this series has been as close as it gets so far, with each game being decided by a run and the outcome being determined late. The first two games have given me a sense that the teams are just feeling each other out and that the next three, in Los Angeles, will provide a bit more coherence to all of this. Not that there isn’t something a bit fun about incoherence when it comes to a playoff series.
Your viewing guide:
NLCS Game 3
Brewers vs. Dodgers
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium
Time: 7:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Jhoulys Chacin vs Walker Buehler
Jhoulys Chacin had an excellent NLDS start against the Colorado Rockies, turning in five scoreless innings. If he does something approaching that tonight the Brewers will be in pretty good shape given that Josh Hader — who pitched three shutdown innings in Game one — is available again tonight. To the extent Craig Counsell needs to dig more deeply into his reliever corps, however, things could get dicey. Corbin Burnes, Jeremy Jeffress, Corey Knebel and Joakim Soria have combined to allow seven earned runs in four innings. Brandon Woodruff, who has been dominant thus far, throwing five scoreless innings, stands a good chance of being the opener for Game 4, so Counsell will likely try to keep him off the mound tonight. That puts a decent amount of pressure on Chacin to get the game to Hader with as few innings remaining as possible.
For Los Angeles, it’s Walker Buehler who, the grand slam he gave up to Ronald Acuña in the NLDS notwithstanding, was the Dodgers’ most dominant starter down the stretch. In keeping with the somewhat flipped script so far, however, the Los Angeles bullpen has been solid, allowing just two runs over their ten and two-thirds innings in Games 1 and 2. Not that Dave Roberts wouldn’t love to see Buehler go deep tonight too.