The Braves have won their arbitration case over third baseman Austin Riley, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (Twitter link). He’ll earn the team’s $3.95MM filing figure in 2022; Riley’s camp had sought a $4.2MM salary.
Riley reached arbitration for the first time over the offseason as a Super Two player. He’ll be eligible three more times before first qualifying for free agency after the 2025 campaign. Arbitration salaries have a compounding effect based off previous years’ numbers, so the result means he’ll be working from a slightly lower baseline in future years than he would’ve had he won the hearing. In either event, the $250K gap in the two sides’ filing figures was minimal; even in the context of future raises, the result is unlikely to have much of an impact on the Braves’ spending habits.
The 25-year-old Riley is coming off a breakout 2021 campaign. After posting below-average numbers in each of his first two seasons, he hit .303/.367/.531 with 33 home runs and 107 runs batted in last year. Arbitration hearings spilled into the regular season because the lockout froze offseason business for more than three months, but the arbitrator’s decision was based off Riley’s 2019-21 body of work.
While it wasn’t relevant for this year’s hearing, Riley has gotten out to an excellent start in 2022. The raw rate stats (.237/.336/.482) look to be a fairly significant downturn relative to his previous numbers, but that’s only before accounting for the overall drop in league offense. By measure of wRC+, Riley’s early-season work has been 33 percentage points above this year’s league average output. That’s virtually identical to the 135 wRC+ he put up in 2021.