Salary arbitration in baseball is a messy business—at its essence, it’s a player saying “I’m worth this much” and a team saying “no you’re not,” which is just terrible for workplace morale, and especially in this current financial climate—so it makes sense the Mariners, here in Seattle where we fear face-to-face confrontations only slightly less than the active volcano that looms over our city, do everything they can to avoid it. This isn’t the Bronx, after all. Today it was announced that the Mariners have once again avoided arbitration with all of their eligible players for 2021.
The Mariners had already settled up with Mitch Haniger back in December, right at about the time his first child was born (hooray for Hanigers), for $3.01M. That’s a number I think could be a bargain for the AL’s 2021 Comeback Player of the Year. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out our new series where your favorite staff members squabble over the projections of certain players for the upcoming season. Spoiler alert: I am voting Haniger 2021.
Another arbitration-eligible player who missed the 2020 season, Tom Murphy, also settled up with the Mariners, although that number wasn’t disclosed by the club nor reported out in the media at this time. Players can’t earn less in arbitration than what they made before, although that’s not so helpful for Murphy, who was making league minimum. Spotrac has Murphy estimated at $1.6M, which seems about the right range, although it stinks that Murphy didn’t have a chance to play himself into a higher payday with a healthy 2020. We are rooting for the Tom Murphy Comeback Machine, and for the Mariners to have to fork over a hefty sum to the cartwheeling backstop in 2021.
Update: Tom Murphy did not get nearly as much of a raise as some expected.
Tom Murphy, Mariners agree at 875K— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 16, 2021
The Mariners traded away a promising young prospect in Jose Corniell to acquire Rafael Montero from Texas this off-season, a move I didn’t understand at the time given how little team control is left on Montero’s contract. As an Arb-2 player, Montero was making $785K; he’ll get a significant bump in salary this season as an Arb-3 player, to $2.5M. Predicting who Seattle’s closer will be is a task not even the most seasoned fantasy baseball mavens will touch, but all signs certainly seem to point to the team having faith in Montero to take up that mantle. (My money remains on Keynan Middleton battling his way into the role at some point.)
The final arbitration-eligible player was J.P. Crawford, who was designated as a Super Two player prior to the arbitration period. (For a refresher on what “Super Two” means, click here.) For all his inconsistency with the bat, Gold Glove winners at premium defensive positions don’t exactly grow on trees, and the Mariners rewarded their slick-fielding shortstop with a $2.05M figure, which honestly, still feels a little low, although it does give J.P. a nice base on which to build his salary for next year—as well as a tidy sum to sock away for his upcoming wedding this next off-season.