The Orioles said they were going to “file and trial” with the three players with whom they exchanged arbitration figures last month.
I didn’t see that happening. It’s just not the Orioles’ style.
They went to a hearing with one, catcher Caleb Joseph. And they won it, with the arbitration panel choosing the club’s $700,000 figure over Joseph’s $1 million.
The Orioles settled with another, agreeing to a deal with starter Kevin Gausman. First reported by Fox Sports on Sunday, Gausman agreed to a one-year, $3.45 million deal. He was seeking $3.5 million and the O’s had filed at $3.15 million. The Orioles agreed to a deal above the mid-point, and Gausman could pick up another $100,000 in incentives for starts made in 2017.
What that means is that the Orioles didn’t take a hardline with Gausman; they left plenty of room in the negotiations to avoid a hearing. Seems like a smart move for both parties, given just how important Gausman is to the success of this 2017 squad.
Now the Orioles have one more case to settle or take to a hearing: Brad Brach next week. The All-Star reliever filed for $3.05 million while the Orioles countered with $2.525 million.
The gap — $525,000 — isn’t huge. And Brach is one of the more reasonable, level-headed guys on the team, although it always takes two sides to reach an agreement. So, will the Orioles and Brach settle?
I honestly don’t know.
A couple weeks ago, I put the over-under of arb hearings at one. If asked then to handicap the chances of going to a hearing with the three arb-eligible players, I would have said that they’d settle with Gausman, go to a hearing with Joseph and it would be 50-50 with Brach.
I guess if the Orioles want to show they were serious with their “trial-and-file” proclamation, they should take it to a hearing. But I’m not sure that matters.
The Orioles always have the leverage in these situations. After their victory over Joseph, they are now 11-1 in arb hearings during majority owner Peter Angelos’ tenure. Their legal muscle is already flexed without needing to do it again.
It would be easier for both parties if a settlement is reached and there are no avoidable distractions at the start of spring training. I can’t remember the last time Orioles have had two arb hearings in one year. That hasn’t been their style. And I’m still not sure it will be, despite earlier pronouncements.