If a team has a player on its 40-man roster with at least three and less than six years of Major League service time, who is not signed to a multiyear extension, that player is eligible for MLB’s arbitration process. Some players with less than three years are eligible as well; these are called Super Two players. The arbitration process is used to determine the player’s salary, generally by looking at how the player’s traditional statistics stack up with previously established precedents. About 200 players are eligible for arbitration for 2018, including Josh Donaldson, Manny Machado, and Kris Bryant. For many players, the arbitration process is the first major step up in salary prior to free agency.
A player’s agent, with the help of the Players Union, is pitted against the team as they try to settle on a salary. Friday marks the deadline for players and teams to exchange figures, with each side submitting what they think the player’s 2018 salary should be. Many players will agree on a salary in advance of this date; more than a dozen have already. From what I’ve heard, all teams now treat Friday’s deadline as a hard one, meaning if they don’t have a salary agreement by then, they’ll automatically go to a hearing (barring a multiyear extension). Last year, 15 players went to hearings, which occur in February. In an arbitration hearing, each side makes a case for its salary figure in front of an independent panel, and the panel chooses a winner.
For seven years now, MLBTR has been using a proprietary algorithm to project arbitration salaries. We also have a constantly-updated MLB arbitration tracker for 2018, which allows you to filter by team, service time, Super Two status, signing status, and whether the player went to a hearing. You can see and sort by the player and team submissions for those who get to that point, and sort by settlement amount. The tracker has everything you need to keep up with each team’s arbitration class.