2024-01-14 · 3 min read · MLB/Baseball
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports | Vaughn Ridley

As Thursday evening has come and gone, so too has MLB’s arbitration deadline; the date in which clubs could come to a contractual agreement with their arbitration-eligible players.
In total, 23 players did not agree to terms with their organization, resulting in 22 of them being on track to partake in arbitration trials - Brewers’ reliever Devin Williams, who did not agree prior to the deadline, signed a one-year, $7 million contract shortly thereafter to avoid the process. From now until each individual player’s arbitration date, deals can still be agreed to that would eliminate the need for a hearing.
The hearings themselves are by and large not a fun experience, with the general consensus from players who have gone through it describing them as awkward as hell. For those unfamiliar with the process, the player submits a number they believe they are worth and the club submits a number of what they believe the player is worth - the arbiter then must hear the case for each, and pick one of the two. The chosen number will be said player’s contract for 2024.
It’s an odd process; the club clearly wants to sign a deal, but simultaneously can come off as bashing or belittling just to save a few bucks. “There's no denying that the relationship is definitely hurt from what [transpired] over the last couple weeks,” said 2022 NL Cy Young righty Corbin Burnes, talking about his experience with the process. Ex-MLB reliever Brian Bruney called it “brutal” while one of his teammates at the time, Sean Burnett, said it was “uncomfortable”. Former Nationals’ reliever Jason Bergmann says it’s a “hatefest”.
The moral of the story is that if it can be avoided, it probably should.
In Toronto’s case, they managed to do that with 11 out of their 12 arbitration-eligible players. RHPs Jordan Romano, Erik Swanson, Trevor Richards and Nate Pearson, LHPs Tim Mayza and Genesis Cabrera, INFs Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal, Cs Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk, and OF Daulton Varsho all reached settlements. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. did not.
For now, there’s still time for a deal to form - much like Devin Williams and Milwaukee, Toronto has no interest in badmouthing the face of their franchise when discussions of a possible mega-extension are on the horizon. The last thing you want to do is eliminate some goodwill preemptively which, among many other things, would be a Grade-A public relations disaster. That said, the near-$2 million difference in submitted values between club and player is, in the eyes of the Blue Jays, noteworthy enough to warrant an impending arbitration hearing.
Alongside the Blue Jays’ slugger, Luis Arraez and the Miami Marlins also could not come to an agreement, with a $1.4 million difference ($12 million & $10.6 million) causing the standoff.
Though the arbitration system, as it currently stands, remains unchanged from before the last CBA, there were proposals from both sides regarding potential adjustments. The MLBPA wanted arbitration to kick-in early on in a player’s career, while the MLB suggested scrapping it in its entirety and replacing arbitration on a merit-based, analytical system. Neither were implemented into the new CBA.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s hearing will likely occur in February, should the two sides not come to an understanding before then.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Gus Cousins


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