*The deadline for teams to exchange arbitration figures with arbitration eligible players is today at 1:00 PM EST. Teams and arbitration eligible players can still negotiate up to the arbitration hearing to try and strike a deal. However, for the Pirates, today’s 1:00 deadline might as well be the deadline for negotiations.
Over the past few years, the Pirates have been one of the “file and trial” clubs in baseball. What this means is that once the team and the player exchange their figures tomorrow, the Pirates will go to arbitration and argue for their figure. The goal prior to the deadline will be to avoid arbitration by reaching a deal.
It’s hard to say the impact of the “file and trial” approach, but some of the theories are that it can put pressure on the players to submit a figure that is more likely to be accepted, rather than aiming high and hoping to negotiate further to the midpoint of the two exchanged figures. It can also influence negotiations earlier, rather than waiting until after tomorrow’s exchange deadline to get serious.
The Pirates have gone to arbitration in recent years, most recently in 2015 with Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, and Vance Worley. They won their case against Neil Walker ($8 M vs $9 M), but lost to Pedro Alvarez ($5.75 M vs $5.25 M) and Vance Worley ($2.45 M vs $2 M). As you can see, they go to trial, even if the figure is less than half a million.
That doesn’t mean they go to trial every year. They avoided arbitration with all of their players in 2016. So far this year, they’ve avoided arbitration with all but four of their players (at the time of this writing). Here are the remaining players and their expected arbitration figures:
Tony Watson – $5.9 M
Juan Nicasio – $4.6 M
Gerrit Cole – $4.2 M
Jordy Mercer – $4 M
We saw some deals go down already, with Drew Hutchison ($2.3 M) and Jared Hughes ($2.825 M) avoiding arbitration. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few more moves take place before the deadline. The one player who might be a risk to go to arbitration would be Cole, since he is represented by Scott Boras, which doesn’t usually lead to easy negotiations.
We’ll have updates throughout the day, along with live coverage from the final day of mini camp. Speaking of which, here are some videos from today’s practice:
**I was planning on an Elias Diaz article today, but had a follow-up question I needed to ask, and then spent most of my time today getting videos and interviews for articles next week. So expect the Diaz article tomorrow or Saturday, depending on how much news comes out tomorrow. And expect more videos tomorrow as I hope there will be some bullpen sessions to cover.
**Pirates Avoid Arbitration with Drew Hutchison and Jared Hughes. Two down and four to go.