The Rays decided over the weekend to renew the contract of reigning American League Cy Young winner Blake Snell for just $573,700, highlighting the less-than-satisfying manner in which pre-arbitration players’ salaries are determined. As we noted in that post, other similarly accomplished players have been paid quite a bit more by their respective teams. The collectively bargained system leaves full discretion with clubs to set salaries for those players that are not yet eligible for arbitration, subject only to a floor (currently $555K). A few players have landed in the $1MM range, though that is the exception rather than the rule. Approaches vary widely from team to team. Whatever one thinks about the fairness of that minimum salary level, it’s rather a bizarre system.
Here are some other notable recent pre-arb salary outcomes:
- The Astros renewed star third bagger Alex Bregman for $640,500, per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. That’s a bargain rate for one of the game’s best young position players, who says he’s “disappointed” in how things turned out. Bregman explained: “I feel like good business would be wanting to make a player who performed at a high level on your team happy and want to feel like he wanted to be kept and feel like they wanted him to play here forever. I’m just disappointed it doesn’t seem like the same amount of want.” GM Jeff Luhnow defended the decision in part by pointing to the fact that it’s “one of the top ten” pre-arb salaries ever awarded. “I know it’s not satisfying because he’s a great player and no player is ever satisfied the year before they reach arbitration with the amount the club gives them,” said Luhnow. “That’s just the nature of our industry right now.”
- Over in Cardinals camp, there are a few other players who are surely less than thrilled with how things turned out. Righties Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks were each renewed, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The former was renewed at $562,100 — $10K less than the team offered him, reflecting a $10K reduction for his decision not to sign on the dotted line. Flaherty decline to criticize the team, saying that “their process is great and it makes sense,” but says “the system as a whole is not great.”
- Meanwhile, the Angels managed to reach agreement with AL Rookie of the Year recipient Shohei Ohtani, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Ohtani has over than a year less service time than Bregman but will out-earn him at $650K. The ROY hardware certainly didn’t hurt and Ohtani is unquestionably a unique case — and not just because of his two-way contributions. The Halos originally landed Ohtani — Japan’s biggest star and the most fascinating international player ever to cross the Pacific — for a bonus of just over $2.3MM since he chose to come over while still subject to collectively bargained international signing caps. Ohtani’s will be a pre-arb earner one more time in 2020 before qualifying for arbitration.