Arbitration thoughts before today's filings - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Arbitration thoughts before today’s filings

By 1 p.m. today, the Orioles must exchange their salary figures with their seven arbitration-eligible players – assuming they don’t settle with any before that time.

It’s always interesting to see how far apart the club is with its arb-eligible players, most of whom are usually key to the upcoming season, given the nature of baseball’s salary structure.

That certainly is true this year. The Orioles’ seven arb-eligible players include some of their biggest stars: third baseman Manny Machado, second baseman Jonathan Schoop, shortstop Tim Beckham, catcher Caleb Joseph and pitchers Kevin Gausman, Zach Britton and Brad Brach.

That’s a pretty important nucleus for 2018, though Machado, Britton and Brach, all free agents after the season, have been mentioned in trade talks this winter.

The arbitration exchange day is a bit of an overblown deadline. First, all of these guys are under contract, the question is simply how much will they get next season. Secondly, even though the sides file figures, an agreement can be reached up until a hearing, which is usually held in February.

If no agreement is reached, then an arbitration panel will pick one of the two numbers submitted, and that will be the player’s salary for the upcoming season.

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The Orioles are particularly good at arbitration hearings; they hadn’t lost in 22 years until Brach and his agent were victorious last year. It was one of two Orioles’ cases that went to hearings in 2017. Joseph lost the other one.

Typically, the Orioles settle a few cases before the exchange date, but as of Thursday night, that hadn’t happened.

A few cases worth noting:

Machado, in his last year of arbitration, could be in line for an arbitration award in the $16-$18 million range. He’ll fall short of David Price’s $19.75 million award in 2015, but it’s still going to be a big jump from the $11.5 million Machado made in 2017. Whatever it is, it will be a base for his free-agent springboard next winter, and shouldn’t be a detriment for a trade this spring/summer.

Britton, who set a relief record last year with an $11.4 million arbitration settlement, was probably going to be in the $12 to $13 million range before rupturing his Achilles this offseason. Now, the question is whether the Orioles try to re-up him at the same salary or offer a small raise. Neither will be a big deal, but if the Orioles offer a reduction in salary, well, that would be worth watching (in most cases it can’t be a reduction of more than 20 percent).

Schoop had a monster season in 2017 and now will get a monster raise that should double – close to triple – his $3.5 million salary last year. It should put the Orioles on notice to try and sign Schoop to an extension, or he’s going to be looking at another big jump next offseason (well into eight figures) if he has a strong campaign in 2018.

Brach made $3.05 million last year. He led the team in saves in 2017. Compiling saves really helps in arbitration. With that in mind, expect that Brach will come close to doubling his salary in his last year before free agency.

Here is the list of Orioles’ arb-eligible players, what they made in 2017 and what mlbtraderumors.com predicts they’ll make in 2018.

Machado, $11.5M, $17.3M

Britton, $11.4M, $12.2M

Schoop, $3.475M, $9.1M

Gausman, $3.45M, $6.8M

Brach, $3.05M, $5.2M

Beckham, $885K, $3.1M

Joseph, $700K, $1.4M

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