Scores of arbitration-avoiding deals were reached in the runup to today’s filing deadline. At the moment the best place to see all of them as they come in is probably MLB Trade Rumors, which has a running list of National League and American League arb-avoiding deals. More will likely trickle in as the evening wears on.
Two that won’t be trickling in, however, involve two of the best pitchers in the game. Neither Aaron Nola of the Phillies nor Luis Severino of the Yankees were able to reach deals with their respective clubs. Given what we talked about earlier today regarding teams going file-and-trial with these sorts of things, each of them can look forward to an arbitration hearing next month.
Nola went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 224/58 in 212.1 innings last year, finishing third in the Cy Young balloting. Severino went 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 220/46 in 191.1 innings, finishing ninth in the balloting, a year after finishing third.
Part of what may have made reaching a deal difficult is that, historically, starting pitchers who are first-year arbitration eligible like Nola and Severino have gotten fairly low deals. Nola and Severino are quite a bit better than most firs-year arbitration pitchers and as such, there are not a lot of comparable awards out there on which each side can hang their hat for negotiation purposes. With nothing truly controlling to guide them, the the teams may have been shooting a bit lower than usual and the players a bit higher, making an agreement difficult.
Assuming there are no negotiations between now and arbitration time, it’ll likewise make for a couple of difficult hearings.
Matt Spiegel of 670 The Score Chicago heard from a source that Major League Baseball executives have been discussing a 100-game season that would begin on July 1 and conclude on October 15. It would essentially pick up the second half schedule, eliminating the All-Star Game while hosting the World Series at a neutral warm-weather stadium — ideally Dodger Stadium.
In the event the Dodgers, who won 106 games last year, made it all the way through the playoffs, the World Series would be hosted in Anaheim or San Diego. The earlier rounds of the playoffs would be played in the cities of the teams involved, which might be tough since the postseason would extend into November.
Spiegel went on to describe this vision as “an absolute best case scenario,” and that’s accurate. In order for the regular season to begin on July 1, the players would need to have several weeks if not a full month prior to get back into playing shape — more or less an abbreviated second spring training. And that would mean the U.S. having made significant progress against the virus by way of herd immunity or a vaccine, which would allow for nonessential businesses to resume operations. The U.S., sadly, is faring not so well compared to other nations around the world for a variety of reasons, but all of which point to a return to normalcy by the summer seeming rather unlikely.
Regardless, the league does have to plan for the potential of being able to start the regular season this summer just in case things really do break right and offer that opportunity. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated multiple times about the league’s need to be creative, referring to ideas like playing deep into the fall, changing up the location of games, playing without fans in attendance, etc. This rumor certainly fits the “creative” mold.