While the Orioles seem intent on going to arbitration hearings with their three unsigned players, I’d love to be a fly on the wall as the process unfolds.
Bonus if there are snacks on the table.
Caleb Joseph is seeking $1 million while the Orioles have countered at $700,000. He made $523,500 last season.
Joseph’s agent has been preparing his case and he’s bound to gloss over the .174/.216/.197 slash line and zero RBIs. The testicular injury and month spent on the disabled list also figure to work against him.
Maybe there are comps to other backup catchers or a heavier emphasis on defensive metrics. MLBTradeRumors.com projected that Joseph would earn $1 million, so the request isn’t necessarily unreasonable, but I’m not sure whether the three-person panel really cares.
You never want hard feelings to be born from these hearings and it can happen on both sides. The player must sit and listen while his employer tears him down. The team can’t be pleased that Joseph is willing to go to a hearing.
The Orioles were annoyed that outfielder Alejandro De Aza went to a hearing over $650,000 in 2015. Joseph has been in the organization since the Orioles drafted him in the seventh round in 2008 and he has plenty of supporters, with manager Buck Showalter one of the more vocal. He’s not going to make enemies, but I’m sure some people in the organization are disappointed.
Joseph is the favorite to back up Welington Castillo, but he still has a minor league option. Francisco Pena does not, and executive vice president Dan Duquette purchased his contract from the Royals in December 2015.
I’m just curious how Joseph’s agent is building his case. A raise is coming, no matter the outcome. It’s the nature of the business.
The Orioles settled with closer Zach Britton, reaching agreement on an $11.4 million contract for 2017. He made $6.75 million last season.
I can’t imagine how the Orioles would have formulated an argument against Britton if the sides went to a hearing. “You weren’t perfect enough.” Or, “Oh, yeah? Well, if you were so good, why didn’t you pitch in the wild card game?”
The Orioles also settled with Chris Tillman on Friday, signing him to a $10.05 million deal for the upcoming season. The staff ace wasn’t sweating it, and he’s not obsessing over his pending free agency.
Duquette spoke again with Tillman’s representatives about a possible extension, but the discussions are in the early stages. And Tillman isn’t hanging on every word.
“I think that would be up to the Orioles. I think it’s in their hands,” Tillman said last week on the “Hot Stove Show” on 105.7 The Fan.
“They know how I feel about Baltimore and the fan base and my team and the staff. I’ve got quite a relationship with, I feel like, a lot of the fans. I really do love Baltimore and it’s been a great place and I’d love to stay. It’s really the only organization that I’ve known. It’s been a blessing to be a part of and I’d really like to stay. I think it would be cool.”
Tillman is like so many other players who mostly stay out of the business side of the game. I’ve constantly been told, “That’s why you have an agent.”
“Your representatives are going to do most of the talking. If anything big happens, then they get a hold of you,” he said.
“I haven’t heard anything, I haven’t seen anything. When it comes down to the whole season part of it, your teammates deserve your full attention on winning games and focusing on trying to win a championship instead of what your future holds. That’s selfish and you know I’m big on that kind of thing.
“When it does come down to the season, I’m focused on doing what I need to do. There’s not a whole lot that can really distract me from doing what we need to get done.”
The Orioles figure to step up efforts in spring training to avoid any negotiating during the season if Tillman’s contract status hasn’t changed.
Tillman remains the No. 1 starter on a staff that lost Yovani Gallardo earlier this month in a trade with the Mariners for outfielder Seth Smith.
“It was a big surprise to me. It really was,” Tillman said. “I was on the phone with him probably 30 seconds after it broke and he still wasn’t all that sure about it. He was surprised, I was surprised, I think everyone was surprised.
“It’s a bummer. You get close and all of a sudden he’s gone. But that’s baseball. It happens. I wish him nothing but the best and I’m sure we’ll keep in contact because we had a good relationship. All of us did, especially with the young guys. I can’t tell you how good he was with Dylan (Bundy) and Gaus (Kevin Gausman) and all of us. He’s one of a kind, man. He was real fun to play with.”