The Orioles are down to one arbitration eligible player that has not agreed to terms.
The team and second baseman Jonathan Schoop have avoided Thursdays hearing by agreeing to an $8.5 million deal for 2018. Schoop had filed at $9 million while the Orioles had countered at $7.5 million.
Therefore, the 26-year-old Schoop, who was the club’s 2017 Most Valuable Oriole, will receive a 2018 salary slightly above the midpoint and much higher than the $3.475 million he received in 2017.
That leaves only one Oriole still potentially facing an arbitration hearing: right-hander Kevin Gausman, who filed for $6.225 million while the club countered with $5.3 million. If the sides can’t come to an agreement, an arbitration panel next week will choose one of the two numbers, which will become Gausman’s salary for 2018. Gausman and the Orioles settled before a hearing last year.
The good news with Schoop is that the Orioles have avoided any further friction with their budding star by agreeing to terms – and terms above the midpoint. Schoop did not attend the organization’s annual Fanfest last month, presumably because of the open arbitration case – and was criticized by manager Buck Showalter, among others, for listening to bad advice from his representation.
The bad news here is there was no reported talk about an extension for Schoop, who is eligible for free agency after the 2019 season. The Athletic first reported Schoop’s agreement.
MLB and Players Union spit at each other
On Tuesday, Tony Clark, the executive director of the players’ union, offered a statement chastising owners for not attempting to sign “a record number of talented free agents … in an industry where revenues and franchise values are at record highs.”
Clark added, “This year, a significant number of teams are engaged in a race to the bottom. This conduct is a fundamental breach of the trust between a team and its fans and threatens the very integrity of the game.”
Shortly thereafter, Major League Baseball, through the commissioner’s office, released a counter statement, denying Clark’s assertion that some owners are not trying to be competitive.
“Our clubs are committed to putting a winning product on the field for their fans. Owners own teams for one reason: To win. Clubs go through cyclical, multi-year strategies directed at winning.”
The statement continues, criticizing unnamed agents for not taking advantage of strong offers from teams.
“What is uncommon is to have some of the best free agents sitting unsigned even though they have substantial offers, some in nine figures. It is the responsibility of players’ agents to value their clients in a constantly changing free agent market based on factors such as positional demand, advanced analytics and the impact of the new basic agreement. To lay responsibility on the clubs for the failure of some agents to accurately assess the market is unfair, unwarranted and inflammatory.”
My expert analysis: We have an old-fashioned pissing match going on here among some very wealthy contestants.
Not sure how this is going to play out, but it ain’t pretty right now.
At this point, however, I’d expect spring training to go on as planned. As always, stay tuned.