1 pm Eastern time today was the deadline for arbitration, with players and teams exchanging figures. While doing so doesn’t prevent them coming to an agreement - that can happen, literally, up until the two sides enter the arbitration hearing - it’s quite common for there to be a flurry of agreements on this date. Teams would rather not have to tell players a hard figure of what they think the player is worth, and the same probably goes from the other side. It could be disconcerting to find a large gap between your opinion and that of your employer... And, lo, that appears to have been the case for the three eligible Arizona Diamondbacks players.
Zack Buchanan of The Athletic had the details on Twitter. Left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith, in his first season of eligibility, came to an agreement at $1.465 million. There had been a lot of uncertainty over quite how the arbitration process would play out, given the severely curtailed season we just went through. MLB Trade Rumors ended up using three different methods to work out their projected salaries, but it seems they ended up getting there in the end. The average of the three methods came in at $1.4 million, not too far off the figure agreed between Smith and the team.
For Luke Weaver, also in his first year of arbitration, the price was a little higher, at $1.95 million. That came in ahead of the MLBTR estimates, which averaged out at $1.77 million. That’s a bit of a surprise, as Weaver’s numbers definitely did not look good in 2020: he went 1-9 with a 6.58 ERA. Though his FIP was close to two runs better, all the way down at 4.67, and it wasn’t as if Weaver’s ERA was the worst on the team. That “honor” belongs to Robbie Ray at 7.84. Regardless, Robbie still signed a contract with the Toronto Blue Jays worth $8 million earlier this off-season, making less than $2m for Weaver seem positively a bargain.
The final man on the arbitration train this year, was Carson Kelly, who made it in as a “super two”. While most players need three years of service time to get arbitration, those who fall just short, are rewarded with an extra year of it. So rather than three years under contract and three of arbitration, they get two under contract and four of arbitration. Kelly fell unto that group this season (again, I’m sure the math involved figuring it out in this shortened campaign was quite complex!) and so would have been eligible. Nick Piecoro tells us Kelly and the team agreed at $1.7 million, again more than the $1.47 million predicted by MLBTR.
That helps provide some surety in terms of cost for the front-office in 2021. But what is still far from certain yet, is what revenue streams will be like this year. Will there be a full season? Will there be fans paying to get into the park? Until that all gets figured out as well, I would not count on the team to be making any significant moves.