MLB arbitration day: Walker Buehler, Jack Flaherty, Cedric Mullins make new deals for 2023

Friday marks the arbitration deadline in Major League Baseball, which means it’s the last day for teams and their arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary figures for the upcoming season.

As a reminder, players with between three and six years of big-league service time* have their salaries determined or at least informed by salary arbitration. Typically, arbitration salaries come out of negotiations between team and ARB-eligible player, but if an agreement cannot be reached, each side submits its salary figure to an arbitration panel. The panel then picks one figure or the other – there is no averaging the two presented figures or otherwise pull a salary out of the air for the player. This dynamic encourages serious negotiation, and it explains why you don’t see really wild figure exchanges by player or team (if each side presented a preposterous salary figure, the panel would quickly choose the opposing figure).

About the asterisk

Above, a small group of players known as “Super Twos” are eligible for an extra year of salary arbitration after only two years of MLB service. Generally, however, players see a large salary growth in years three, four and five of their career heading into free agency after six years of service. This is thanks to arbitration. As a prominent example, Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani avoided this process back in October by agreeing to a one-year, $30 million package for his upcoming walk year. Not surprisingly, this is a record salary for a player who is eligible.

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Most ARB-eligible players will agree to salaries for the upcoming season before the deadline, and others will agree to terms before an arbitration hearing is set to go down. A smaller number will not reach an agreement with their teams and will actually participate in a hearing, but the hearings can become contentious and awkward — essentially asking teams to downplay the accomplishments of the player in question — and both sides typically prefer to Avoid this last step. The “typically” qualifier is important, because some clubs take a “file and process” approach, in which they refuse to negotiate further if the deadline day does not yield an agreement. It’s also worth noting that for some prominent ARB-eligible players, long-term extensions can grow out of those talks. That is, negotiations with ARB eligible players do not Have

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to give a one-year pact. Sometimes they can even lead to nine-figure packages that “build out” the players’ most billion years and one or more free-agent seasons.

Below we’ll track the notable deadline day signings, led off by one that went down well before Friday’s finish line.

Devers, Red Sox agree to big extension

Team logo The Red Sox earlier this month stopped a streak of hemorrhaging homegrown starsSigning third baseman Rafael Devers to an 11-year, $331 million extension

. Devers was eligible for a third year of arbitration and was scheduled for free agency after the 2023 season. Instead, he will be in a Boston uniform for years to come.

Devers, 26, hit .295/.358/.521 (141 OPS+) with 42 doubles, 27 homers and a 4.4 WAR last season and made his second straight All-Star team. He has amassed nearly 3,000 plate appearances in 689 career regular season games since debuting at just 20 years old and slashed .283/.342/.512 (124 OPS+) over that span. He led the AL with 54 doubles in 2019 and has two 30-plus homer, 100-plus RBI seasons to his credit.

Flaherty, Cardinals reach agreement

Team logo The Cardinals and right-hander Jack Flaherty avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $5.4 million contract for 2023,Derrick Goold reports

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. Flaherty, 27, again dealt with injuries last season, but his ace upside — he finished fourth in the NL Cy Young balloting back in 2019 — means he remains an important figure in the St. He remains slated for free agency after the upcoming season.

Orioles agree to terms with Mullins

Team logo In his first year of arbitration eligibility, outfielder Cedric Mullins will receive a salary of $4.1 million for 2023,Jon Heyman reports

. Mullins, 28, was an All-Star in 2021 and is coming off a 2022 season in which he hit 16 home runs and stole 34 bases as Baltimore’s primary center fielder.

Dodgers, Buehler have a deal

Team logo The Dodgers will pay Wise Walker Buehler a salary of $8.025 million for 2023,Mark Feinsand reports

. Buehler was limited last season by an arm injury that eventually resulted in Tommy John surgery. It’s possible he won’t run in 2023.


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