As Spring Training approaches, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. Arbitration hearing results expected today:
Utilityman Mauricio Dubon went to arbitration against the Astros yesterday. The 29-year-old requested a $3.5MM salary while the club countered with a $3MM figure. Dubon enjoyed a career year in 2023, hitting .278/.309/.411 while appearing in a career-high 132 games. Dubon also flashed his versatility with the glove by appearing at every position on the diamond except for pitcher and catcher, though the overwhelming majority of his playing time was split between second base and center field. Dubon’s strong performance last year led to an arbitration projection of $3.1MM from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
The Associated Press reported yesterday that Dubon figures to be one of several players to have decisions handed down today in arbitration cases. Angels outfielder Taylor Ward, Orioles outfielder Austin Hays, and Orioles right-hander Jacob Webb are all also expected to receive resolutions to the salary disputes with their respective clubs. Ward requested a salary of $4.8MM for the 2024 campaign, while the Halos countered at $4.3MM. Hays requested $6.3MM while Webb requested $1MM, with the Orioles countering at $5.85MM and $925K respectively. Teams have typically won arbitration cases more often than players have in recent years, and that’s held up so far this season with a 2-0 record over players in hearings to this point.
2. Could more extensions be on the horizon?
It’s fairly common for teams and players to start looking into extension possibilities when the calendar flips to February and players begin to report for Spring Training. A few teams have gotten a head start on such negotiations this winter: most notably, the Royals extended star shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. to a record-shattering deal yesterday. Looking beyond that, the Brewers and Tigers got together with top prospects Jackson Chourio and Colt Keith on pre-debut extensions earlier this winter. Could more extensions be on the horizon before Opening Day?
The Phillies reportedly plan to prioritize hammering out an extension with veteran right-hander Zack Wheeler, who’s currently slated to hit free agency after the 2024 campaign. Meanwhile, superstar outfielder-turned-first-baseman Bryce Harper has expressed interest in an extension that would allow him to remain in Philadelphia beyond the term of his current contract, which runs through his age-38 season. Looking beyond the Phillies, the Astros notably tried to extend several players last winter, finding success only with right-hander Cristian Javier. The club has reportedly not yet reopened talks with those players, though with both Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman ticketed for free agency after the coming season its possible negotiations could start in the near future.
3. MLBTR Chat today:
Even as Spring Training looms, there’s plenty of boxes still unchecked on the offseason shopping lists of clubs all around the league. Are you wondering what’s next for your favorite team, or perhaps curious about what the market for a particular free agent looks like? If so, tune in this afternoon when MLBTR’s Steve Adams hosts a live chat with readers at 1pm CT. You can click here to ask a question in advance, and that same link will allow you to join in on the chat once it begins or read the transcript after its completed.