This year’s class has a number of well-known names. At the tip-top are a pair of outfielders entering their walk seasons: Mookie Betts and George Springer, both of whom figure to clear million salaries. Then there’s Kris Bryant, who has an outstanding grievance against the Chicago Cubs as it relates to service-time manipulation. National League MVP Cody Bellinger is eligible for the first time as a Super Two, while American League home-run champ Jorge Soler is among a quality group of players expected to clear million.
1. What does “swap figures” mean?
What it sounds like: the player and the team must each submit a proposed salary for the 2020 season to a panel of arbitrators, who could decide which side gets their wish in a hearing.
2. Does filing numbers mean a hearing is certain?
Major League Baseball’s arbitration system is one of the sport’s most complicated aspects. As such, we don’t expect anyone to get hot and bothered when we note that Friday serves as an important day on the offseason calendar. That’s because teams and arbitration-eligible players must swap figures before noon EST.
3. Does this mean [player] won’t sign long-term?
Technically, the two sides can continue talking up until the date of a hearing — which would take place during February. Even so, most of the league has adapted what’s called a file-and-trial approach to arbitration — if they haven’t reached an agreement by filing day, then the two sides will no longer negotiate a one-year deal.
4. What happens during an arbitration hearing?
The player’s representation and team take turns making their cases for why their number is the player’s appropriate compensation. These hearings can get testy, as is to be expected — the team is literally telling the player they have an over-inflated sense of self-worth.
5. How do players become eligible for arbitration?
Yup. Nolan Arenado set a record for highest single-season arbitration prize last year, when he agreed to a one-year deal worth million. (He later signed a long-term extension with the Colorado Rockies.) Per MLB Trade Rumors’ model, Betts could well exceed that mark by a couple million.
6. Who are some of the big names involved?
Some of the others in that class include Marcus Semien, J.T. Realmuto, Marcus Stroman, Robbie Ray, James Paxton, Trevor Bauer, Trevor Story, Roberto Osuna, Alex Colome, and Jonathan Villar.
For more on what exactly that means and who exactly that concerns, let’s address seven questions you might have about MLB‘s filing day.
7. Are there any records at risk?
Arbitration eligibility is dictated by service time. In most cases, players don’t become eligible until after they accumulate more than three years in the majors. The exception is for a class of players called “Super Twos,” who rank in the top 22 percent of players with between two and three years of service time. This year, that meant everyone with 2.115 years or more of service.