The Brewers defeated ace reliever Josh Hader in their salary arbitration hearing, according to multiple reports (including MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand). Hader will make $4.1 million instead of the $6.4 million figure he filed at. The case appears to continue the precedent that saves are what are heavily valued for relievers in salary arbitration.
That, of course, is heavily outdated thinking. Hader has been one of the most valuable relief pitchers in the game since he first stepped foot in the big leagues. Milwaukee deployed him as a sort of tactical nuke for his first two seasons, throwing him into high-leverage situations regardless of when they arose. He assumed regular closing duties in 2019 and racked up 37 saves, a second consecutive All-Star appearance, and a second NL Reliever of the Year award.
The loss is a substantial one for Hader, as the $6.4 million mark would have been a much higher point for his salary to increase from in the following seasons. It’s also bad news for relievers who will follow in his shoes, who will still have to try to explain why they’re valuable despite not having a small mountain of saves to stand on. The outdated thinking at work in these hearings is something that the players are surely eager to change.
Teams have now won five of the six decided arbitration hearings this winter. The Dodgers’ Pedro Baez is the lone victor. That paltry win rate has to be concerning to the MLBPA.
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.