For several MLB players, the grueling, invasive and downright corrosive salary arbitration hearing process will begin this week.
In 2013, 133 players filed for salary arbitration, and for the first time in the 40-year history of the process there were no hearings. So far in 2014, 19 of the 146 players who filed still haven't come to an agreement on a 2014 contract.
Teams and players who aren't able to come to an agreement based on figures submitted by each side in January will state their cases in an arbitration hearing before a three-person panel sometime between now and Feb. 20. That setting is where things get testy between front office personnel and players, as former big-league hurler Greg Swindell told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 2012:
"I remember sitting across the table from John Hart and Dan O'Dowd and being furious that this was the team I played for, but they were telling me how bad I was. I realized it was the business side of the game, but I didn't like it."
Hart, who now works in an advisory role for the Texas Rangers, had a similar account of the events:
"[It was] a blood bath on both sides. We were on one side and Swindell and his agents, the Hendricks brothers, were on the other. The process was very uncomfortable."
Those stories go along with legendary arbitration tales that came out of Boston in the 1980s, as shared last year by Tom Van Riper of Forbes.com:
"Rich Gedman, a Red Sox catcher who batted .295 in 1985, pointed out at a hearing that his batting average was among the twenty highest in the league. Red Sox officials, presumably with a straight face, argued that Gedman's average didn't even crack the top 100. How? By showing the panelists a list of every player in the AL, including those who batted, say, .333 by going 3-for-9."
The discomfort involved with the process is likely a big reason why there were no hearings last year. That won't happen this year, with notable starting pitchers Justin Masterson, Jeff Samardzija and Homer Bailey, power closer Craig Kimbrel and possible budding star Brandon Belt among those seemingly headed to that dreaded phase opposite their respective clubs.
Two of the biggest names were removed from the board Tuesday, when the Braves signed first baseman Freddie Freeman to an eight-year, $135 million contract and inked outfielder Jason Heyward to a two-year, $13.3 million deal.
Here is a full list of players who will be going through the rigorous arbitration hearing process, along with the previously exchanged salary figures:
|Pos||Player||Team||Club offer||Player request||Midpoint|
|RHP||Homer Bailey||Reds||$8.7 million||$11.6 million||$10.15 million|
|RHP||Justin Masterson||Indians||$8.05 million||$11.8 million||$9.925 million|
|RHP||Craig Kimbrel||Braves||$6.55 million||$9 million||$7.775 million|
|C||Matt Wieters||Orioles||$6.5 million||$8.75 million||$7.625 million|
|RHP||Tyler Clippard||Nationals||$4.45 million||$6.35 million||$5.4 million|
|RHP||Jeff Samardzija||Cubs||$4.4 million||$6.2 million||$5.3 million|
|RHP||Greg Holland||Royals||$4.1 million||$5.2 million||$4.65 million|
|OF||Mark Trumbo||Diamondbacks||$3.4 million||$5.85 million||$4.625 million|
|RHP||Kenley Jansen||Dodgers||$3.5 million||$5.05 million||$4.275 million|
|OF||Michael Brantley||Indians||$2.7 million||$3.8 million||$3.25 million|
|1B||Brandon Belt||Giants||$2.05 million||$3.6 million||$2.825 million|
|1B||Justin Smoak||Mariners||$2.025 million||$3.25 million||$2.6375 million|
|1B||Mitch Moreland||Rangers||$2.025 million||$3.25 million||$2.6375 million|
|OF||Josh Reddick||Athletics||$2 million||$3.25 million||$2.625 million|
|RHP||Andrew Cashner||Padres||$2.275 million||$2.4 million||$2.3375 million|
|2B||Darwin Barney||Cubs||$1.8 million||$2.8 million||$2.3 million|
|LHP||Andrew Miller||Red Sox||$1.55 million||$2.15 million||$1.85 million|
|RHP||Vinnie Pestano||Indians||$975,000||$1.45 million||$1.2125 million|