The deadline for major-league teams to agree to salary figures for the 2018 season passed Friday afternoon. While the bulk of players came to agreements with their respective clubs, more than 25 are potentially headed for arbitration hearings in order to have their salaries settled.
Here's what we learned about the players and teams that agreed to new deals, those who didn't, and what it means:
Some of baseball's elite third baseman got paid. Josh Donaldson, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rendon, and Manny Machado combined to receive $62.15 million after agreeing to deals. Donaldson led the way with his record-setting $23-million deal - the highest-ever one-year payout for an eligible player. Bryant also set a record with his $10.85-million deal, becoming the highest-paid first-year arbitration-eligible player. While the Machado and Donaldson deals established their salaries in 2018, both players are still poised to hit free agency next winter.
The Red Sox agreed to deals with 12 of their 13 arbitration-eligible players, but were unable to work something out with the most prominent. Mookie Betts remains without a salary for 2018, as he and the club remain well apart. The 25-year-old, who earned $950,000 last season, submitted a request for $10.5 million, while the Red Sox countered with $7.5 million. The $3-million difference is the biggest of any arbitration-eligible player. Betts would be the third-highest-paid position player on the team behind Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez whether he wins or loses his hearing.
The Yankees still sit comfortably under the luxury-tax threshold after agreeing to terms with all eight of their arbitration-eligible players. Dellin Betances, Sonny Gray, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Tommy Kahnle, Austin Romine, Chasen Shreve, and Adam Warren cost the club $29.2 million in salary, bringing their projected 2018 payroll to approximately $177 million for 2018 - $20 million under the threshold. The Yankees have been adamant that they plan to stay under the luxury tax this season in order to reset any penalties heading into next year's monster free-agent class. Despite that, the club has been linked to free-agent starter Yu Darvish and Pittsburgh Pirates ace Gerrit Cole in recent weeks, and also could afford to add another infielder prior to Opening Day. Lucky for GM Brian Cashman, there's financial flexibility.
The Astros and Marlins lead all teams with three potential cases each heading to arbitration. Houston agreed to deals with five players, including Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, but was unable to work out an agreement with closer Ken Giles, outfielder George Springer, and starter Collin McHugh. While Giles and McHugh are both less than $500,000 apart, Springer and the Astros stand at a $2-million difference. The Marlins, meanwhile, failed to agree to deals with catcher J.T. Realmuto, first baseman Justin Bour, and starter Dan Straily. Realmuto represents the biggest discrepancy, requesting $600,000 more than what Miami offered. The trio are three of the Marlins' better players following their offseason roster purge.
With close to 200 players arbitration eligible this winter, major-league front offices were understandably swamped this week trying to negotiate salaries ahead of the deadline. With much of the heavy lifting done, teams can once again focus on free agency, leaving optimism that the hot stove will begin to thaw. With a month to go before the first pitchers and catchers report, almost the entire list of top-tier free agents remain, including J.D. Martinez, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish, Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn.
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