The Orioles have won their arbitration hearing against catcher Caleb Joseph, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (on Twitter). As such, Joseph will earn the $700K figure submitted by the team as opposed to the $1MM sum submitted by his camp.
Joseph was a solid fill-in for the injured Matt Wieters for much of 2015, hitting .234/.299/.394 with 11 homers, but he faced an uphill battle in an arbitration hearing coming off a dreadful 2016 campaign. In 49 games and 141 plate appearances, Joseph batted .174/.216/.197 and, remarkably, did not drive in a run. While there’s a greater focus on more modern statistics throughout the industry, the arbitration process still focuses heavily on “baseball card” stats such as runs batted in. That, a lack of playing time and a just three extra-base hits on the season (all doubles) all seem to have outweighed Joseph’s status as a strong defensive catcher. He threw out 31 percent of attempted base thieves in 2016 and graded as a decidedly above-average pitch framer once again, per Baseball Prospectus, as he has throughout his Major League and minor league career.
The 30-year-old Joseph figures to be a backup in Baltimore again in 2017, though he’s behind Welington Castillo and not Wieters this time around. The Orioles still control Joseph through the 2020 season, and he’s arb-eligible another three times along the way. With Joseph’s case out of the way, Baltimore can shift its focus to its remaining two arbitration cases: right-handers Kevin Gausman and Brad Brach (as can be seen in MLBTR’s 2017 Arbitration Tracker).