2013 MLB Free Agency: Latest Updates on Arbitration-Eligible MLB Stars
On Jan. 18, arbitration-eligible players had until 1:00 p.m. EST to exchange salary figures with their respective ballclubs.
Many players avoided arbitration by coming to an agreement on the days prior.
Under the collective bargaining agreement, teams can sign players for any amount before salary figures are exchanged. However, after 1:00 p.m. EST, clubs can only negotiate between the two salary figures presented by both sides.
In all, 133 players filed for salary arbitration. That number has already been whittled down significantly within the past few days.
Here are 12 of the top arbitration-eligible players.
Jason Heyward: Atlanta Braves
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After hitting .269 with a career-high 27 home runs and 82 RBI in his third season, Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward was in line for a considerable raise in his year of arbitration-eligibility.
Heyward signed a one-year, $3.65 million deal, avoiding arbitration.
He brought home $565K last season, so a considerable raise is exactly what Heyward received.
At just 23 years of age, it's entirely possible that Heyward hasn't come anywhere near his peak yet, so $3.65 million is a more-than reasonable contract for the Braves considering his potential for the 2013 season.
Jim Johnson: Baltimore Orioles
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The Baltimore Orioles avoided arbitration with four players just before the deadline.
Closer Jim Johnson was not one of the four.
Catcher Matt Wieters, first baseman Chris Davis and pitchers Troy Patton and Brian Matusz all signed one-year deals. Johnson, Darren O'Day and Jason Hammell will exchange salary arbitration figures.
Johnson saved a major league-leading 51 with a 2.49 ERA in 71 appearances for Baltimore last season, making $2.625 million for the year.
MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Johnson would receive a $6.9 million salary in arbitration, a considerable raise.
However, $6 million seems like a more reasonable number. The Orioles will likely point to Johnson's struggles during the postseason if the two sides meet in front of an arbiter.
Joel Hanrahan: Boston Red Sox
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The Boston Red Sox traded for the closer they thought would give their bullpen a huge boost when they acquired Joel Hanrahan last month.
Now, they have him locked in for the 2013 season.
Hanrahan and the Red Sox avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $7.04 million contract.
MLB Trade Rumors projected Hanrahan at $6.9 million, so Hanrahan came out slightly on top.
This is a deal that works for both sides. Hanrahan receives a nice raise over his $4.1 million salary last season. The Red Sox make a commitment for just one year, falling in step with their obvious plan of signing players more for the short term rather than tying up the future.
Mat Latos: Cincinnati Reds
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The Cincinnati Reds still have six arbitration-eligible players left to sign after the passing of the deadline.
Homer Bailey, Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Heisey, Alfredo Simon, Mike Leake and Mat Latos will all exchange figures with the Reds.
Latos is eligible for the first time, and he presents an interesting case. He posted a 14-4 record and 3.49 ERA in 33 starts, including a spectacular second half in which he was 7-2 with a 2.84 ERA.
MLB Trade Rumors projected that Latos would earn $4.6 million next season, a nice increase over his $550K salary of 2012.
I believe the Reds will lock Latos in at $4.75 million next season with an eye toward a more long-term contract possibly within the next 12 months.
Dexter Fowler: Colorado Rockies
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Colorado Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler earned $2.35 million in his first year of arbitration. He went out and backed up the deal with a breakout campaign, hitting .300 with 13 HR and 53 RBI, becoming a solid leadoff presence in the Rockies lineup.
Fowler and the Rockies will exchange figures after failing to come to terms on a contract before the deadline. MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Fowler would earn $4 million in his second year of arbitration.
That figure could be higher if the case makes it to arbitration. The Rockies will sign Fowler for $4.5 million.
Max Scherzer: Detroit Tigers
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The Detroit Tigers came to terms with six of their seven remaining arbitration-eligible players.
Outfielders Austin Jackson and Brennan Boesch, pitchers Doug Fister, Rick Porcello and Phil Coke and catcher Alex Avila all reached deals with the Tigers prior to the deadline.
The lone Tiger left standing without a contract is right-handed pitcher Max Scherzer.
Scherzer made $3.75 million last year, his first year as an arbitration-eligible. He posted a 16-7 record and 3.74 ERA, leading the majors with an 11.1 K/9 rate.
MLB Trade Rumors projected that Scherzer would double his 2012 salary. In addition, no Tiger has ever gone to arbitration since Dave Dombrowksi took over as general manager.
The Tigers and Scherzer will eventually agree at $7.5 million.
Jason Vargas: Los Angeles Angels
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The Los Angeles Angels came to terms with three of their arbitration-eligible players within the last two days. Jerome Williams, Tommy Hanson and Alberto Callaspo all came to terms before the deadline.
Newly-acquired southpaw starting pitcher Jason Vargas will be exchanging figures, however.
Vargas posted a 14-11 record and 3.85 ERA for the Seattle Mariners last season, serving as a solid No. 2 behind ace Felix Hernandez.
Vargas earned $4.85 million last year, and MLB Trade Rumors predicted a raise to $7.4 million this year.
The Angels could well look into locking Vargas in to a two-year deal for approximately $16 million.
Chase Headley: San Diego Padres
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So, just how much will San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley be worth in the 2013 season?
The Padres still have five players left to sign, having failed to reach agreement before the deadline. Catcher John Baker, Headley and pitchers Luke Gregerson, Clayton Richard and Edinson Volquez.
Headley could be in line to double his 2012 salary of $3.475 million after his breakout season. MLB Trade Rumor predicted that Headley would earn $8.3 million in 2013.
It seems more likely that the Padres and Headley will agree to something close to that figure at this point. Headley is under team control for two more years and the two sides have not yet gotten close to negotiating a long-term deal.
Buster Posey: San Francisco Giants
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Just before Friday's deadline to exchange figures, the San Francisco Giants and catcher Buster Posey agreed on a one-year, $8 million deal.
Is that just a temporary measure, however?
There have certainly been indications that the Giants are willing to sign Posey long-term. Giants general manager Brian Sabean said last November that there have been internal discussions.
“We’ve visited it internally,” Sabean said. “We are open to the idea. He certainly deserves that consideration.”
This could very well have been a move just to get Posey under a solid for next season, giving the Giants time to work out a deal that guarantees cost certainly for them in the future and guarantees Posey security.
Long-term deals have certainly been in vogue recently, and Posey is a perfect candidate.
With a Rookie of the Year Award, two World Series rings in three seasons, a batting title and an MVP Award, it's a safe bet that Posey isn't leaving the Bay Area anytime soon.
Sergio Romo: San Francisco Giants
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While the San Francisco Giants inked four players to contracts on Friday—catcher Buster Posey, outfielders Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco and left-handed pitcher Jose Mijares—one important bullpen piece still remains unsigned.
Sergio Romo saved 14 games for the Giants in 2012, including closing the door on three of their four wins over the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.
Romo made $1.575 million last season and MLB Trade Rumors predicted a raise to $3.6 million in 2013.
Romo's recent troubles at a Las Vegas airport could cast a negative pall on his character, but likely not on his worth on the baseball diamond. A $3.75 million contract is a fair deal.
David Freese: St. Louis Cardinals
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One of the heroes for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 2011 World Series made just $508K last season.
That's likely to change in a big way in 2013.
Third baseman David Freese was one of three players who didn't sign a contract before the deadline, and will exchange figures with the team.
Freese enjoyed a solid 2012 season, hitting .293 with 20 HR, 79 RBI, an .839 OPS and earning his first-ever All-Star selection.
MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Freese would earn $2.6 million next season. The Cardinals could just round that off to $2.5 million. A long-term deal might not be in the cards, so to speak—Freese will be 30 years old next April.
Ian Desmond: Washington Nationals
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Shortstop Ian Desmond missed over 30 games last season, yet still managed to take home a Silver Slugger Award.
Desmond hit .292 with 25 HR and 73 RBI in 130 games for the Nationals last season.
The two sides were able to avoid arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.8 million contract. Desmond earned $512K last season and was handsomely rewarded for his breakout season.
MLB Trade Rumor had projected a $3.2 million salary for Desmond in 2013.
At just 27 years of age it's not out of the realm of possibility that the two sides could come to terms on a long-term deal.
James Wagner of the Washington Post alluded to that as well:
Desmond seemed like candidate to strike a multi-year deal with the Nationals, a way to buy out some or all of his arbitration years, potentially save some money and avoid this yearly process. He is under team control until 2016. An extension can still be revisited or struck at a later date.
Locking up Desmond would assure the Nats of a terrific left side of the infield along with Ryan Zimmerman for years to come.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.