While baseball salary structures and payrolls are complicated enough to deal with, the arbitration process might well be the single most difficult portion of that process to wrap your heads around. In essence, it’s a player’s first real chance to get a raise from league minimum salary for the year, though it only comes once a team and a player come to agreement on the terms.
Or, if there’s no agreement, the two parties get to have an arbiter settle things for them, which more or less pits the two sides against one another on a rather public stage. For the Cincinnati Reds, that stage was Tuesday with Eugenio Suarez, as his case opposite the Reds was finalized, as FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported (social media-lly speaking).
Suarez, 26, will still obviously be taking home a hefty sum in his first arbitration year, though there’s a caveat to that number that remains incredibly important. Each arbitration year salary builds upon the previous year’s number, so for Suarez, his salary during each of the next two years will only be pegged to the $3.75 million he’ll make this year instead of the $4.2 million he’d requested. While that $450K number might not make a ripple in importance right now, that could eventually be a number that costs him several million dollars down the road.
In his breakout 2017 campaign, the 3B hit .260/.367/.461, bonking 26 dingers to go along with excellent hot corner defense, and his background as a shortstop has those of us focused on the Reds’ roster salivating with the opportunities. With Zack Cozart gone, Suarez could conceivably return to his previous position should Jose Peraza not be able to adequately fill Cozart’s shoes, and with Nick Senzel in the waiting at 3B the options truly do become numerous. And while the Reds have stated publicly that Suarez is set to solely stick to 3B after his 2017 season, perhaps that was just a bit of gamesmanship on the part of the front office with the decision on his arbitration case still up in the air.
With Suarez now officially on the books for the Reds, they’ll now turn their heads towards their next and final arbitration hearing - one with Scooter Gennett.