Arbitration thoughts before today's filings -

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.

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 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



  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 12, 2018 at 7:38 am

    Dan …. what would your best guess be to the terms of a deal that would be acceptable to both parties in order to lock up Schoop for 5 or more years at this point of his career? I’m thinking say $75 for 5 may get it done?

    I think it’s a given that this needs to get done to avoid another Manny Machado scenario.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 12, 2018 at 8:32 am

      I think that’s reasonable though the money may need to be a tick higher. But frankly I’m just guessing. I always seem to be low on these things.

  2. phildell

    January 12, 2018 at 10:05 am

    I don’t know what it’s going to take to keep Schoop long term, but whatever it is the O’s need to do it NOW to avoid the debacle they find themselves in with Manny.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 13, 2018 at 12:19 pm

      Not sure the Manny thing is at debacle level. But they should have tried to lock him up earlier. And now is the time for Schoop. Agreed.

  3. Bancells Moustache

    January 12, 2018 at 11:41 am

    This is where the Duquette apologist in me comes out. That they stated they hadn’t discussed a deal with Machado to me, doesn’t mean they are stupid, tone deaf, hate America and whatever else people are saying, it tells me Machado’s side of the table presented a ridiculous demand because they know the bidding war that ignites when he hits the market this fall. Machado was an elite prospect throughout his youth. He’s had the date he hits free agency circled with a green marker since he was a High School sophomore.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 13, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      Agreed. But make him think.

  4. Orial

    January 12, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    Ok Dan I’m confused on this one. Reports say Josh Donaldson just got a record 23 million arbitration settlement that will keep him in Toronto thru 2018. What am I missing? He’s still a FA after 2018. Give Manny his 18 million for 2018 and he’s a FA. Where did Toronto make out other than keeping Donaldson for the season which they could easily do by not trading him.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 13, 2018 at 12:22 pm

      Yeah. Donaldson didn’t have a choice of where he is playing in 2018 — assuming he wants to get paid. Same for Manny. 6 full years than you can fly.

  5. bv22

    January 12, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Britton is an example of something I don’t understand with the arbitration process- why is he projected to get a raise when he was injured for a good chunk of last season and his numbers were nowhere near what they were the previous 2 years? If anything, his salary should remain flat/stable/the same. Nothing he did last year merits a raise in my opinion.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 13, 2018 at 12:24 pm

      It’s the process. Players get raises based on body of work. Not just one year — tho that year is at the forefront. Much of it is comps from players who have gone before them. The first three years players get paid under $600K per season. Then the next three their salaries explode based on the arb process. Just the way it is.

  6. Eldersburg Enigma

    January 15, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    Are you excited? BaltimoreBaseball should enter in the arbitration process following the 2018 season!

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