Major League Baseball saw its arbitration deadline pass yesterday at 1:00pm EST with not many surprises. Prince Fielder avoided a potential hearing with Milwaukee by inking a one year extension that will pay the big man $15.5-million; the largest sum of money ever given to an arbitration-eligible player. The Red Sox did the same with their closer Jonathan Papelbon agreeing to a $12-million pact for 2011, the fourth highest single-season total ever for a reliever.
Other notable settlements from around the league include Matt Capps who re-signed with the Twins for $7.15-million (which seems really high), C.J. Wilson who settled with Texas for $7.05-million, Heath Bell who agreed with San Diego on a $7.5-million deal, and Josh Willingham who will make $6-million next year with Oakland.
These aren’t necessarily the most notable players who settled with their teams, but they are some of the most expensive, and none of them seem to be particularly worth it to me.
On the Jays front, Toronto settled with all but two of their arbitration-eligible players before the deadline, coming to terms with Brandon Morrow ($2.3-million), Yunel Escobar ($2.9-million), Casey Janssen ($1.095-million), Shawn Camp ($2.25-million), Jesse Litsch ($830,000) and Carlos Villanueva ($1.145-million).
The Jays also inked an extension with Rajai Davis for two-years and $5.25-million with an option for 2013 set at $3-million with a $500,000 buy-out.
But two players did not reach agreements with the club by the deadline: Jason Frasor and 54-home run man Jose Bautista.
The team and the players can continue negotiating until the hearings in February, but each side had to submit a figure to MLB by 1pm yesterday. If no agreement is reached by the hearing, the two sides make their case to an arbitration panel and whichever side wins has their figure implemented; no middle ground.
These hearings can often create tension between the two sides so it’s probably a good thing that the Jays haven’t gone to a hearing since doing so with reliever Bill Risley in 1997.
Frasor and the Jays aren’t far off; the Jays have reportedly submitted a figure of $3.25-million, while Frasor’s side has given a figure of $3.725-million.
Bautista on the other hand is more of a challenge. The Jays submitted a figure of $7.6-million, while Bautista believes he should make $10.5-million.
As an added wrinkle to this, Alex Anthopoulos says they will not negotiate one-year deals after the deadline, but instead will only talk multi-year contracts.
“If we don’t have deals done by the 1 p.m. deadline, we would not negotiate a one-year deal” says Anthopoulos. “As a general policy, if multi-year deals were to ever come about, we certainly could continue to negotiate those.”*
Bad grammar aside, this complicates things for both players. The Jays have given no indication that they are willing to give Frasor a multi-year contract and although they could be open to it, I doubt they take that plunge with the added flexibility a one-year deal has for a middle-reliever.
I also can’t see the Jays and Bautista coming together on anything other than a one-year deal since the Jays have no way of knowing what to expect from Bautista in 2011 and beyond. Plus, the fact that they are so far apart suggests to me that they couldn’t come together on deal if they wanted to. Finally, if I’m Bautista I want a one-year deal at $10.5-million or a long-term deal that takes care of me for the rest of my career. A two-year deal seems like the worst possible option from the player’s perspective.
That impressive streak of arbitration case avoidance could end this offseason for Toronto.
Here’s a thought before I let you go back to whatever it was you were doing: What if the Jays are looking to trade Frasor before the arbitration hearing? I mean, they did just sign both Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch to one-year deals; that strangely high amount of right-handed depth in the ‘pen could be used to grab a prospect or two from another organization and there could be quite a bit of interest for a guy like Frasor given that he’ll earn similar cash as other pitchers of his ilk.
*From MLB.com, found here.