The deadline for teams to exchange arbitration figures with the players eligible for the process is tomorrow at 11 am, Arizona time. It doesn’t necessarily mean a great deal: doing so doesn’t commit either side to going through the process, with an agreement capable of being reached up to the very door of the arbitration hearing. However, it appears to be the case of late that teams have adopted what MLB Trade Rumors calls a ‘file and trial” approach: “halting negotiations on one-year contracts once figures have been exchanged and simply going to a hearing at that point. On that basis, we can probably expect a good many more agreements in the next 12 hours.
But we can already cross at least one of the many Diamondbacks off the list, with the team announcing today they had signed catcher John Ryan Murphy to a one-year deal. According to Bob Nightengale, the deal is for $900,000, which is a good chunk (in percentage terms) below the MLBTR estimate of $1.1 million. Hey, it all adds up. Given the D-backs have ten other players still eligible for arbitration, if the same discount on expectations applied to each of them, that will be a total of $2.2 million more which the team will have, potentially to spend elsewhere. Might not seem much, but that’s the price of a Jeff Mathis or Daniel Descalso.
With Alex Avila and Carson Kelly also on the books, it does appear as if the team will once again be going with three catchers. However, they could still end up trading one of the trio between now and Opening Day, and go into 2019 with just the two. When they originally tendered Murphy, they did not have Kelly, who appears at the moment to be penciled in as the long-term catcher of the future. This would be Avila’s final year, so they could go with Kelly/Murphy in 2020. [Hat-tip to Rockkstarr12 for bringing my attention to this news]