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Mariners at the arbitration deadline (updated post)

Nine players, including three of the new hires, were/are eligible for arbitration

Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics
when the arbitration panel isn’t having it
Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

Today by 11 AM PST, the Mariners must agree to terms with seven players in order to avoid arbitration. They have already inked deals with catcher Jesús Sucre (630,000, back in December) and news broke yesterday they also reached terms with new shortstop Jean Segura, for $6.2 million. That’s a significant savings over the $7.3 MLB Trade Rumors projected him to get, so yay. We will update this post as news filters in on whether or not players are able to reach deals with the team.

As a refresher, arbitration-eligible players are those who have at least three full seasons of MLB service time, but not more than six. If a player has less than three years of service time but more than two years and performs in the top 22% of players, they are a “Super Two” player and arbitration-eligible that year. During the arbitration process, a player brings what they feel is a fair salary request to a neutral panel, and the team counters with what they feel is a fair payday based on the player’s worth. Both sides are given a chance to present their case, and the arbitration panel decides on who has the stronger case and awards the player that amount of salary. As FanGraphs notes, “[a]rbitration panels are notoriously old school, and tend to make their decisions based on player comparisons and traditional statistics like RBIs and Wins.” MLB Trade Rumors has a projection model for each arbitration-eligible player here.

The Mets and the Red Sox had the highest number of arbitration-eligible players this year, at ten, but the Mariners tie with the White Sox, Rays, and Orioles for second with nine each. Signing Segura and Sucre helped—as did offloading arbitration-eligible players like Norichika Aoki (6.8 million), Taijuan Walker (2.8 million), and Vidal Nuño (1.1 million)—but the Mariners still face potential arbitration with the following players, listed in order of their service time (projected salary in parenthesis):

  • Danny Valencia (5.3 million)
  • Jarrod Dyson (2.5 million)
  • Drew Smyly (6.9 million)
  • Leonys Martin (6.3 million)
  • Evan Scribner (1.1 million)
  • Nick Vincent (1.5 million)
  • James Paxton (Super Two) (2.7 million)

That’s a lot of millions, and a big reason why projecting the Mariners’ payroll has been tricky this year. The Mariners haven’t had to go to arbitration often, but in 2015, Tom Wilhelmsen argued his case against the Mariners and lost, receiving 1.4M instead of the 2.2 he had requested. That was the first time the Mariners had been to an arbitration hearing in over ten years, the last time being with Freddy Garcia in 2003 (Garcia won his request for 6.875M over the team’s offer of 5.9). You can find a complete list of Mariners arbitration hearings, dating back to 1980, here. It’s not a long list, but might become longer after today.

*Update, 10:45 AM:

A little higher than projected for Valencia, but given that he has the most service time on the list, it makes sense. PLEASE be worth it, Danny.

*Update, 11:03 AM:

Nice! This represents significant savings over the 6.3 projected number, and only a slight pay hike from his 4.15M last year. Keep it up, Jerry.

*Update, 11:32 AM:

Well, that was a quick day of arbitration.

To save you a click, per the attached article: “Per club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.” Well, boo. We will find out soon enough, but aside from Smyly, the other three potentially big-ticket contracts were Segura, Valencia and Martín, and the Mariners appear to have come out well ahead on Martín and Segura’s projections. That being said, expect Jerry to take some time off and let his credit cards cool down. After acquiring Smyly, he said he was done, and I’m inclined to believe him.

Yet even more updates!

So, Smyly at about what was projected, Dyson slightly over, and Scribner slightly under. Vincent and Paxton both signed under their projections, and Paxton’s pricetag might look like a steal come midseason.