Rays Look to Avoid Arbitration Hearings

After making a trade on Wednesday, the Rays are continuing to work on Thursday and Friday to avoid having an arbitration hearing with any of the 10 eligible players. The number is 10 because the recent Drew Smyly deal.

As background, here’s a general explanation of how the whole salary process works. Teams are not at risk of losing an arbitration-eligible player. The process just determines their salary for the year. In many cases, your first three years in the majors, you make at or near the minimum, which will be right around $535,000 in 2017.

Your next three years, if a team tenders you a contract in December (you can be non-tendered which was not the case with any of the team’s arbitration eligible players), then you have until mid-January to reach a deal with your club. Your salary is based on overall performance over the previous seasons, not just the last year. That’s why generally years four, five and six with a team become exponentially more expensive with each passing year. That’s the case even if you were injured a good portion of the previous season.

Here are the 10 eligible players for their Rays and their projected salary based on MLB Trade Rumors projections:

Alex Cobb ($4.0 M)

Erasmo Ramirez ($3.5 M)

Brad Boxberger ($1.5 M)

Corey Dickerson ($3.4 M)

Brad Miller ($3.8 M)

Xavier Cedeno ($1.2 M)

Jake Odorizzi ($4.6 M)

Danny Farquhar ($1.1 M)

Kevin Kiermaier ($2.1 M)

Tim Beckham

Beckham was not listed so a projection was not included. For a small market team like the Rays, unless you reach an agreement on a long-term contract, it becomes harder to keep a player after the sixth year, which is when they can become a free agent. Cobb is the one player of the group that’s a free agent this off-season.

In some cases, a player actually receives the minimum for two years, and goes to arbitration for four. Those “Super Twos” come from the group of players who have between two and three years service time and at least 86 days service time the previous year. The 17 percent of those players with the most service time become Super Twos. That group this year includes Farquhar and Kiermaier.

The Rays are one of several teams that have what’s called a file and trial deadline. If by 1 p.m. on Friday a player couldn’t reach agreement with the team, the player and team would go to a hearing. The Rays have lost just one time in this forum. Some teams will trade figures at this point, and come to some happy medium between now and a scheduled February hearing. Historically, the file and trial teams have included the Rays, White Sox, Blue Jays, Marlins, Reds, Braves and Pirates. For the Rays, their process has worked, and their record in hearings has probably led agents to want to reach agreement and avoid going to arbitration.

Avoiding a hearing also is helpful because it means no attention is diverted from efforts to upgrade the roster. We’ll post a further update after 1 p.m. tomorrow as to what has taken place.