Right-hander J.J. Hoover has won his arbitration hearing against the Reds and will be awarded a $1.4MM salary as opposed to the $1.225MM figure submitted by Cincinnati, Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter). The Ballengee Group client was arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason.
Hoover, 28, enjoyed strong bottom-line results in 2015, posting a 2.94 ERA in 68 innings, although his strikeout and walk rates were both a ways off from his career bests. Hoover averaged 7.3 K/9 against 4.3 BB/9 this past season, both of which fall shy of his respective career marks of 9.1 and 4.1. His representatives, however, were likely able to tout the right-hander’s durability over the past three seasons, during which time he’s averaged 63 games and 64 innings. All told, Hoover has a lifetime 3.34 ERA in 223 2/3 innings at the Major League level, dating back to his 2012 debut.
Following the Reds’ trade of Aroldis Chapman this offseason, there’s no clear answer as to who will inherit the bulk of the save opportunities in manager Bryan Price’s bullpen, but as the most experienced reliever on the 40-man roster, Hoover figures to be firmly in the mix come Spring Training. A season spent accumulating saves would do well to boost Hoover’s arb case for the 2016-17 offseason, particularly if he can regain some of his missing strikeouts and continue to post solid ERA marks.
As MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon tweets, this represents the Reds’ first arbitration hearing in more than a decade; their last came against Chris Reitsma back in 2004. Hoover becomes the second player to win an arbitration hearing this offseason, making players a perfect two-for-two thus far; Drew Smyly topped the Rays earlier this week. Blue Jays right-hander Jesse Chavez reportedly had his arbitration hearing yesterday as well, although the outcome of that case is not yet known. Earlier today, I rounded up some of the hearing dates for yet-unresolved cases, including Jake Arrieta and Josh Donaldson.