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Friday Arbitration Bantering: deadline day for Blue Jays to reach 2019 contracts and avoid hearings

Today at 1PM eastern the deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to agree on 2019 contracts or else formally exchange proposed salary figures that will be submitted to an arbitration panel to pick one or the other. With the Blue Jays among many teams to adopt “file and trial” approaches, this deadline makes today the last opportunity to reach agreement and avoid a hearing short of a longer term arrangement.

Few arbitration eligible players actually go to a hearing, so there should be steady news flow of settled contracts this morning and early afternoon. For years, the Jays avoided arbitration hearings like the plague, settling all cases between losing to Bill Risley in 1997 and defeating Josh Donaldson in 2015. They’ve since gone to hearings the last two years with Marcus Stroman — over relatively small differences — which ended up a split decisions as Stroman prevailed in 2017 before the team won in 2018 (which clearly didn’t sit well). Will the third time be the charm to avoiding a hearing?

Broadly speaking, on paper it doesn’t look like the Jays should have any really tough cases. The stakes are highest in the first year, which becomes a platform for future years so teams and players can be inclined to dig in over otherwise smaller differences (why the Jays and Donaldson ended up in a hearing). But the three first year eligibles are more complimentary players, so there’s no big stakes. Nor with any of the others are there the circumstances (breakout, etc) that tend to create a chasm in perceived value between the two sides.

Below is a list of the nine eligible players, along with projected salaries from MLBTR, and what that represents in relation to the 2018 salary that serves as a base for arbitration purposes and proceedings. As information becomes known today, we’ll update this thread with details.

Marcus Stroman: $7.2-million ($0.7M raise on $6.5M base, third time arbitration eligible, 4.148 years of service)

  • Update: Marcus Stroman signs for $200k over the projection

Ken Giles: $6.6-million ($2M raise on $4.6M base, second time eligible, 4.113 years)

  • Update: Ken Giles signs for $300k under the projection

Kevin Pillar: $5.3-million ($2,05M raise on $3.25M base, second time eligible, 4.113)

  • Update: Kevin Pillar signs for $500k over the projection

Randal Grichuk: $4.8-million ($2M raise on $2.8M base, second time eligible, 4.033)

  • Update: Randal Grichuk signs for $200k over the projection

Aaron Sanchez: $3.8-million ($1.1M raise on 2.7M base, second time eligible, 4.069)

  • Update: Aaron Sanchez signs for a little over the projection

Devon Travis: $2.4-million ($0.95M raise on $1.45M base, second time eligible, 3.163)

  • Update: Devon Travis signs for $475k under the projection

Ryan Tepera: $1.7-million (first time eligible, 3.008)

  • Update: Ryan Tepera appears to be headed to arbitration court. They are $275k apart.

Brandon Drury: $1.4-million (first time eligible as Super Two, 2.165)

  • Update: Brandon Drury signs for a little under the projection

Joe Biagini: $1.0-million (first time eligible as Super Two, 2.134)

  • Update: Joe Biagini signs a little under the projection

In case you missed it, very late last night news broke that the Jays agreed to terms with RHP David Phelps to bolster the backend of the bullpen. It’s a one year deal for $2.5-million, with numerous incentives based on games played as he works back from Tommy John surgery a year ago. Most intriguingly, there’s a 2020 option for the 32-year-old, with that salary also ratcheting based on 2019. For more on Phelps and more details, read the story here.



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