The Boston Red Sox had seven arbitration-eligible players they were trying to get deals done with, and they wound up landing agreements with five of them.
So, what happens now for the other two?
Friday was the deadline for teams to reach deals with their arbitration-eligible players, and the Red Sox inked contracts with Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree. That leaves two not insignificant Red Sox without deals: Andrew Benintendi and Eduardo Rodriguez.
The term you’ll probably start seeing floating around now is “file and trial.” Friday was the deadline for both the teams and players to, essentially, file the figure they think the player deserves in 2020. If a deal isn’t worked out by the deadline, typically the next step would be to head to an arbitration hearing in February. There, both sides will present their case to a neutral panel, and said panel will choose either the team’s figure or the players’. It will be one or the other, not somewhere in the middle, so the process can sometimes get a little contentious and messy.
It’s worth noting that the teams and player technically still can negotiate in the weeks leading up to the arbitration hearing, but with the file and trial approach, that’s pretty uncommon (and according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, all 30 teams are employing the file and trial system). In short, it seems highly likely the Red Sox will go to hearings with both Benintendi and Rodriguez.
It is not too hard to see why the Red Sox so far have been unable to work something out with Benintendi and Rodriguez. Both players have shown great promise in their careers, but there’s plenty of holes that could be poked in their cases.
Benintendi’s batting average has fluctuated the last three seasons, and he’s never hit over .290 in a full campaign (instead settling around .270). Meanwhile, his home run numbers have dipped while his strikeout totals skyrocketed in 2019. He’s also increasingly gotten slower since breaking into the big leagues. Then again, he did have a solid 2018 season, so it becomes a question of what’s the aberration: 2018, or 2017 and 2019? There’s plenty of promise in his game and he’s only 25, so when you consider his agent’s job is to get the most possible money for his client, it’s feasible that there’s a somewhat hefty gap between the two figures.
Same goes for Rodriguez. He easily was the Red Sox’s most valuable player in 2019, and deservedly popped up on some Cy Young ballots as a result. He’s blossoming into the pitcher many envisioned, but so far his results in 2019 far exceed what he has delivered in previous years– both in terms of production and durability/reliability.
It’s unclear what specifically each side has on the table. A resolution eventually will be reached, though at this point it’s much more likely it’s done inside an arbitration hearing, not outside.
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