Outfielder Taylor Ward has won his arbitration hearing against the Angels and will earn the $4.8MM salary figure he submitted for the 2024 season rather than the team’s $4.3MM figure, per Jon Heyman of the New York Post. Ward is represented by Wasserman.
Ward, now 30, was a first-round pick of the Angels back in 2015 but it took him a while to establish himself at the big league level. By the end of the 2020 season, he had appeared in 94 games scattered across three different campaigns, hitting .214/.283/.351 in that time. In 2021, he showed some positive momentum, hitting eight home runs in 65 games at the big league level and slashing .250/.332/.438 for a wRC+ of 110.
That earned him some regular run in 2022 and he initially made the most of it, seeming like one of the best hitters on the planet for a time. Through May 20, he had hit nine home runs in 131 plate appearances and was slashing .370/.481/.713 for a wRC+ of 235. But it was at that time that he suffered a “stinger” in a wall collision and his performance dipped, though he still finished the season at .281/.360/.473 line for a wRC+ of 137.
Last year, he was performing at a solid level, though beneath his breakout 2022 season. He was hitting .253/.335/.421 for a wRC+ of 107 when, in late July, he was hit in the face by a pitch from Alek Manoah of the Blue Jays. Ward suffered facial fractures and required a trip to the injured list, from which he was not able to return, undergoing surgery while away.
He first qualified for arbitration after 2022 as a Super Two player. He and the Halos avoided arb by agreeing to a $2.75MM salary for the 2023 season. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Ward for a bump to $4.5MM in 2024. The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement prior to the filing deadline and ended up submitting numbers pretty close to that projection, just a few hundred thousand on either side. But the arbiters aren’t allow to pick a middle ground and decided to go with the number from Ward’s camp, giving him the slightly higher raise.
Ward will be eligible for two more passes through the arb system before he’s slated for free agency after 2026. The Angels had two arb cases this year but it was reported last week that they defeated left-hander José Suarez. With Ward’s case now complete, their arb class is fully settled.