After Nick Ahmed signed his extension, that just left Archie Bradley’s contract for 2020 to be decided. The two sides were not able to come to an agreement, so the arbitration hearing happened on Tuesday. Bradley wanted $4.1 million, while the team countered with $3.625 million. Though decisions are usually announced quite quickly in these cases, it was delayed here, due to a similar case pending, which might have been affected by an announcement of a decision on Bradley. However, multiple sources today have reported that the arbitrators came down on the side of Archie, so he will received his requested $4.1m this year.
Speaking this morning after the case, Archie said, “I’m happy. Everyone wants to go out and fight for their value, and I felt like that’s what this was. I had a pretty mature and clear about what this process was, about the business side of the game, and that’s the way I handled it. And fortunately, we won.” He described the arbitration hearing as “an experience... But you learn a lot, you understand where some of the value is, in what they value and you value. And that’s what it was, it was going to fight for the value I think I’ve created in the later inning roles.” However, he did seem to think that the system as a whole was “a little out-dated” and needs to change:
“If I was really to go off the value of the system, I would just say, “Hey, only close me.” I’m only going to save games and take three-out saves. There’s a whole system you can go down. But I’ve always taken the approach that I’m going to pitch in whatever role they put me in. and try to win. And I think pitching well takes care of everything... You can blow a save in the seventh inning, and those are equally important roles. I think as the bullpen has changed over the last few years, the way we’re using the back-end now, there’s a lot of value, that you see in the free-agent market, that doesn’t necessarily translate to guys who aren’t getting saves in arbitration.”
The arbitration process is one which can often potentially lead to friction between the player and the team. After all, it’s basically the latter explaining why the former sucks. But it doesn’t appear that’s the case here. “I just feel respected by our front-office. They came in there and sat in there with me, talked with me beforehand, talked with me afterwards. I’ve heard from a lot of other players about teams not even showing up. Just as a man, I feel respected by those guys, and that’s a really good feeling for me.”
He’s looking to get into a game tomorrow [hopefully, the weather will be in agreement!] and said his main goal this spring was “Just consistency.” He had the option to choose between throwing live BP and facing opponents in an actual game, and went for the latter. “With my slow start last year, I wanted to get in a game early this year: get out there, face real hitters, get some real results and start to evaluate myself based on an actual game.” He’s also asking to get some multi-inning outings: “I feel more comfortable that way. In one inning, I can focus on what I need to work on, and in the second inning add some stuff that I’m trying to take into the season.”
Elsewhere, Archie spoke to Arizona Sports 620, and discussed his struggles in the early part of last season, and the subsequent turnaround. He credits a meeting with Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo for that. “They pulled me in and were straight up like, ‘Look it’s bad right now. No one can deny that. But going to Triple-A is not the answer for you. When you’re right, you’re an A-plus top reliever in this game. So how do we get you back there?’” It seems that vote of confidence allowed him to re-evaluate his game, and helped get Bradley back on track. But he also benefited from some advice he said Paul Goldschmidt gave to Jake Lamb - then Bradley’s housemate - “Quit trying to be great, just try to be good again.”
After taking over as closer last year, Bradley was pretty damn good. From the point on July 30 where he notched his first save, Archie had a 2.10 ERA, and held opponents to a .198 batting average. Hopefully, he can take it to the next level, as potential closer-to-be, and be great for the team in 2020.