The Rays and left-hander Drew Smyly had an arbitration hearing today, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). A hearing is expected to come tomorrow, per Topkin, at which time an arbitration panel will award Smyly either a $3.75MM salary for the 2016 season (the figure he submitted) or a $3.2MM salary (the figure submitted by the Rays).
The 26-year-old Smyly came to the Rays by way of 2014’s three-team David Price blockbuster. Smyly had a dominant finish to that 2014 campaign following the trade — 1.70 ERA across seven starts — but lost a significant portion of his first full season with the Rays due to shoulder problems. After opening the year on the DL due to shoulder tendinitis, Smyly was activated in late April and made three starts before being diagnosed a partially torn labrum in his left shoulder. Smyly elected not to undergo surgery, which allowed him to pitch again i 2015 but also required a three-month stay on the disabled list. He returned in strong fashion, though, posting a 3.24 ERA with a 56-to-17 K/BB ratio in 50 innings across his final nine starts.
This will be Smyly’s second trip through the arbitration process. As a Super Two player, he landed a $2.65MM salary last offseason and will be eligible for arbitration twice more before qualifying for free agency. Because his future salaries will be based off of his 2016 salary, the outcome of the hearing carries much farther-reaching ramifications than the $550K that the two sides are presently debating.
The sum in question may seem trivial to some, although as several Major League executives explained to MLBTR last year at this time, teams feel a responsibility to manage a market that is shared by all 30 clubs. Because all arbitration cases are built on recent historical comparables, the slight increases would eventually compound and become more significant were every team simply to give in to what appear, on the surface, to be relatively trivial amounts.
Smyly is one of 16 arbitration cases around the league that remains unresolved, as MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker shows. While some of those will be resolved prior to a hearing, it does appear that there will be a handful of cases settled via hearing in 2016.