It's that day when arbitration-eligible players must exchange their preferred salary figures with their teams. The main difference this season? All thirty MLB clubs now have a 'file-and-trial' policy - as the Atlanta Braves have had for years.
'Tis the season. Up to this date this offseason, the Atlanta Braves have been most interested in team building activities. Today... that emphasis is placed on hold while internal matters are dealt with.
So it is around all of major league baseball today as well... behold the floodgates are now open:
Only a handful of players around the league have jumped the gun and gotten this process out of the way early. The rest will deal with the subject today - including all 7 of the Atlanta Braves' arbitration-eligible players.
- Johan Camargo, $1.6 million
- Grant Dayton, $800K
- Adam Duvall, $3.8 million
- Mike Foltynewicz, $7.5 million
- Shane Greene, $6.5 million
- Luke Jackson, $1.9 million
- Dansby Swanson, $3.3 million
All along this Winter, when we've needed to project salaries for payroll estimation purposes, we've been using the numbers modeled from the MLB Trade Rumors site (noted above), which has proved to be a highly accurate tool for the process... so much so that many MLB teams use it themselves.
Today, though, those numbers become irrelevant.
In case you don't know, baseball's arbitration process is partly about haggling, partly about guesswork, and partly about actual on-field performance.
Players typically get 3 years in the arbitration system, with the first year being vital as it establishes a baseline from which future arbitration salaries are based.
Today is the deadline for teams and players to submit the salary figures that they are prepared to defend in an arbitration hearing.
Ideally, the team and each player (their agents) will get together and agree on a figure so that everybody's more-or-less happy with the process and the potential for an acrimonious arbitration trial is avoided.
This 'file-and-trial' policy is intended to put a deadline on these negotiations... and for all thirty clubs, if a negotiated settlement can't be reached today, then the two sides will 'file' their preferred salary figures with the MLB office and then plan on proceeding to the 'trial'... with no more negotiations.
This declaration on numbers is not necessarily the numbers that each side feels that the player deserves, but instead it's more about the case they can make.
A couple of years ago, after what had to be a fairly wide gap in the negotiations between the Braves and Mike Foltynewicz' representative, the two sides actually filed figures that were almost comically close to one another... $100,000.
The Braves won that case, but the equally comical part is that while agents will often use in-house resources to prepare for the trial, teams tend to use external representatives... and thus the Braves may have actually spent most of that 'gained' $100,000 in the process of defending themselves.
But as this process goes today, we'll get lots of news about these seven players and their salaries for 2020.
The vast majority of arbitration-eligible players will come to an agreement today with their teams, and then Braves have likewise had a good record of avoiding trials through the years. though early indications seem to lean toward Alex Anthopoulos carrying a marginally harder line in negotiations than his predecessors.
In fact, given the team's payroll, you might even see the Braves try to save a buck or two today over the MLBTR estimated figures. That's just a guess, but we'll see how it plays out.
There could be a few arb-related trades today, too: teams that have been waiting on some trades will often pull the trigger today if an arb-player is involved: better to have the new club decide on negotiations and name their own price to defend... if it comes to that.
So watch the (virtual) wires for the updates: we will definitely hear more later today.