The Astros’ arbitration hearing with right-hander Ken Giles is taking place today in Phoenix, reports Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). The team submitted a $4.2MM salary figure for Giles, who countered with a $4.6MM proposal. While the $400K difference between those sums will likely seem trivial to most fans, it’s worth remembering that the salary set today will impact the raises that Giles receives in his next two trips through the arb process. Furthermore, teams are ever cognizant of not inflating the future arbitration market by making too many concessions and often feel a responsibility to take a firm negotiation stance. I spoke with a few different assistant GMs and GMs on the matter a few years back in a lengthier exploration of arbitration from the team vantage point, for those interested in some of the intricacies of the process.
A few more notes on some teams in the game’s Western divisions…
- Looking to add a bit of versatility to his repertoire, Mariners designated hitter/outfielder Nelson Cruz revealed that he’s been working out at first base this offseason (Instagram link). Seattle already acquired Ryon Healy from the A’s in hopes that the young slugger can hold down their first base spot for years to come, but Cruz could conceivably see some time there when Healy needs a day off or in the event of an injury.
- Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times takes a lengthy, comprehensive look at the Mariners’ bottom-ranked farm system (by Baseball America and ESPN’s Keith Law). Divish’s column has extensive quotes from GM Jerry Dipoto, director of player development Andy McKay and a pair of scouts from other clubs, each weighing in on Seattle’s lack of depth. Dipoto, as he has in the past, indicates that his front office has elected to use the bulk of its prospect depth to acquire MLB assets such as Healy, Mitch Haniger, Ben Gamel, Dee Gordon and Jean Segura. The rival scouts are critical of the system, with one calling it “barren.” However, they didn’t condemn the actions of the Dipoto-led front office as unwise. “It wasn’t a very good system when he got here so you use what you can to build for the big league and then down,” a scout from an AL club tells Divish. “I see their vision. They’ve traded a lot of midrange prospects, but you can’t replenish them as quickly as they’ve traded them off and that affects depth.”
- The Diamondbacks’ signing of Alex Avila over Chris Iannetta (at a near-identical price) came down to simple timing, GM Mike Hazen tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The D-backs, according to Piecoro, made a two-year, $4MM offer to Iannetta before he signed for slightly more than twice that with the Rockies, but that came back in early December. Arizona wasn’t ready to make an $8MM+ commitment at that time, preferring first to explore the trade market for a longer-term solution. When that didn’t materialize, the club circled back to the still-available Avila. Hazen, according to Piecoro, added that the D-backs are likely to carry three catchers on their roster early in the season. Jeff Mathis, John Ryan Murphy and Chris Herrmann are all on the 40-man roster, though Murphy and Herrmann are out of minor league options. The D-backs could still add an outfielder as well, per Hazen.