News broke in rapid succession as today’s deadline for teams and players to submit their arbitration figures came and went. It’s always a much easier, less messy thing to come to an agreement on a contract for the upcoming season as this deadline approaches than it is to see the two sides submit figures that are significantly apart, as that only leads to an arbitration hearing that sees both sides airing dirty laundry despite, in theory, working together in unison going forward.
Fortunately for the Cincinnati Reds, it appears they largely will avoid such public kerfluffles this year, as they avoided arbitration with four of their six arb-eligible players.
They dodged things with Travis Jankowski weeks ago, as they came to an agreement with the former San Diego Padre on a contract for 2020 that will pay him just over $1 million. Earlier today, The Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale relayed that the Reds and Michael Lorenzen had avoided arbitration on a 1-year, $3.725 million deal.
Those were the two deals that were hammered out well in advance of the mid-afternoon deadline. Shortly after the deadline passed, however, Nightengale revealed that the Reds had come to terms with both Anthony DeSclafani and Curt Casali, as well.
Anthony DeSclafani agrees to a 1-year, $5.975M contract to avoid arbitration. He will be a free agent after the season. #Reds— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) January 10, 2020
Curt Casali avoids arbitration with the #Reds, agreeing to a 1-year, $1,462,500 deal for next season.— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) January 10, 2020
All told, those five will combine to earn roughly $12.2 million for the 2020 season, which is pretty much right in-line with the combined $12.3 million they were projected to earn via MLB Trade Rumors’ arbitration model. And just when it appeared Trevor Bauer - the highest projected earner on that list - was going to head to a third consecutive arbitration hearing, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported that Bauer and the Reds had also avoided just that.
Per source, RHP Trevor Bauer and the Reds avoid arbitration, settle for $17.5 million. Bauer had gone to hearings in each of the past two years.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 10, 2020
In Bauer’s case, that’s quite the surprise. The enigmatic righty has gone to arbitration hearings in each of the last two seasons and won both - on top of that, he’s long espoused that he will seek one-year contracts once reaching free agency in lieu of signing one long-term deal, and his own arbitration methods have more or less been a precursor of that strategy. Estimated to earn $18.6 million in 2020 via MLBTR, he’ll get over a million less than that for 2020 before reaching free agency at season’s end.
As for Matt Bowman, this is his first trip through the arbitration process, and that means whatever he earns this year will be the benchmark for his subsequent arb salaries. In other words, he’s right to fight for every last dollar now, as that has a very lucrative ripple effect in this scenario. I wouldn’t be surprised if his number and that of the Reds offer are actually very, very close, but it’s worth it for him to not budge and hope his career-best 125 ERA+ from last year helps him start off with the higher mark. Of course, I also wouldn’t be surprised if it just takes a few more hours to find out he and the Reds actually came to an agreement, since sometimes those things just take a while to trickle out.
All told, the net of today’s action falls in line with expectations. Both Lorenzen and Bauer settled for slightly less than expected, Casali and Jankowski pretty much got what was expected, and Disco managed to land slightly more than his projections. None should drastically impact how the Reds operate going forward, as there were neither budgetary surprises nor any multi-year extensions hammered out. At least, not yet...