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.
The Los Angeles Times reports that federal agents have interviewed at least six current and former Angels players as part of their investigation into the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.
Among the players questioned: Andrew Heaney, Noé Ramirez, Trevor Cahill, and Matt Harvey. An industry source tells NBC Sports that the interviews by federal agents are part of simultaneous investigations into Skaggs’ death by United States Attorneys in both Texas and California.
There has been no suggestion that the players are under criminal scrutiny or are suspected of using opioids. Rather, they are witnesses to the ongoing investigation and their statements have been sought to shed light on drug use by Skaggs and the procurement of illegal drugs by him and others in and around the club.
Skaggs asphyxiated while under the influence of fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his Texas hotel room on July 1. This past weekend, ESPN reported that Eric Kay, the Los Angeles Angels’ Director of Communications, knew that Skaggs was an Oxycontin addict, is an addict himself, and purchased opioids for Skaggs and used them with him on multiple occasions. Kay has told DEA agents that, apart from Skaggs, at least five other Angels players are opioid users and that other Angels officials knew of Skaggs’ use. The Angels have denied Kay’s allegations.
In some ways this all resembles what happened in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, when multiple players were interviewed and subsequently called as witnesses in prosecutions that came to be known as the Pittsburgh Drug Trials. There, no baseball players were charged with crimes in connection with what was found to be a cocaine epidemic inside Major League clubhouses, but their presence as witnesses caused the prosecutions to be national news for weeks and months on end.