The Pittsburgh Pirates and closer Tony Watson had a hearing on Wednesday in front of a three member panel of arbitrators to decide his 2017 salary. Watson was asking for $6 M for this season, while the Pirates offered him $5.6 M. According to Jon Heyman, the Pirates won their case. The Pirates are one of numerous file-and-trial teams, which means they stop negotiating once the player has filed for arbitration. They settled with the other five arbitration-eligible players before the deadline to file on January 13th, leaving Watson as the lone player to go to a hearing for the Pirates.
In his last year before free agency, Watson was looking for a substantial raise over the $3.45 M he made last year in a down season. Taking over the closer role after Mark Melancon was dealt at the trade deadline, Watson posted a respectable 3.06 ERA, though he had a 4.37 FIP, so the ERA doesn’t tell the whole story. His 1.06 WHIP was his highest since the 2012 season. He gave up a career-high ten homers in 67.2 innings, which is more than he allowed over 152.2 innings in the previous two seasons combined.
The difference in salary isn’t significant enough to impact the overall payroll, so this decision today was basically just tying up loose ends. Whether he won or lost, it wouldn’t have impacted possible free agent signings.
UPDATE: Watson said that the experience was good, and the process wasn’t as bad as he thought it would have been. In terms of the team arguing against him, he said everything said was factual, and nothing he didn’t know. He said the process was comp based, and it didn’t seem like there was any damage done, which is the fear for this process.
“It’s over now,” Watson said. “I would have liked to win, but I can’t do anything now.”