It was a busy filing day around baseball, with multiple arbitration records topped and 20 unresolved cases headed towards hearings if deals aren’t brokered in the coming days. Two notable record highs carried the day for players, noted MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. Cody Bellinger took home the highest-ever salary for a first-time arb-eligible player, while Mookie Betts’ one-year, $27MM deal eclipsed Nolan Arenado’s previous record figure for a single season salary under the arbitration umbrella. Some significant battles loom, however…
- George Springer will join the list of the top ten richest one-year contracts no matter how his case is resolved. J.T. Realmuto, meanwhile, has elevated his case to the level of political statement as he tries to set a new market for all catchers, per @fntsyradio host Craigh Mish. Yasmani Grandal made a similar case last year in justifying his decision to accept a single season deal in Milwaukee over a multiyear offer from the Mets. Hard to know if Grandal moved the line for everyone, but it certainly paid off for him.
- It’s time to cede the battle against robot umpires, per The Athletic’s Jayson Stark. “This. Is. Happening,” writes Stark, and perhaps as early as 2022. The mental games used to inch the strike zone this way or that has long been a tool of the game’s best – from the hitters whose impeccable eye define it, to the pitchers’ whose pinpoint control push to expand it – but an automated zone will all but abolish the in-game politicking of the strike zone, giving hitters a new advantage they have long been without: certainty. Robot umpires will define the strike zone with better precision than their carbon-based forerunners – but first the humans must decide what they want that strike zone to be. For those particularly fond of strike zone drama, appreciate it now, because deciding on the parameters of the automated zone might be one of the last great strike zone debates before the robots take over.
- The Royals announced a number of changes to their baseball ops department on Friday, mostly in the form of new hires and promotions (Nick Kappel of Royal Rundown provides the full list). Notables include Rustin Sveum, son of Dale, promoted to minor league video coordinator, former Tampa Bay Ray Damon Hollins returned for an 11th season in Kansas City as the Coordinator of Outfield, Base Running, and Bunting, and the famously high-stockinged Jason Simontacchi named Pitching Coordinator after two years assisting the role.