Four Reds were eligible for arbitration this year. Today, the Reds signed each to one-year contracts.
Cincinnati inked Billy Hamilton to a one-year, $2.65 million contract today, avoiding arbitration with the speedy center fielder. The club also signed Blake Wood to a $1.25 million deal, with the arbitration deadline rapidly approaching.
The Reds avoided arbitration with center fielder Billy Hamilton, MLB.com has learned. The two sides agreed to a one-year, $2.625 million contract.
Reliever Blake Wood also avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.275 million, sources told MLB.com.
The club has not confirmed either transaction.
Friday is the deadline for players and clubs to exchange salary-figure proposals on one-year contracts.
Some clubs, including the Reds, employ a “File and Trial” policy — meaning that once numbers are exchanged, they will likely not negotiate ahead of a hearing next month.
As I’m writing this, I see that the other two arbitration-eligible Reds, Zack Cozart — eligible for arbitration for the third and final time — and Tony Cingrani, have been signed to deals of their own.
The deadline was 1 pm today, so it looks like the Reds snuck these four signings in just under the wire. With respect to Hamilton, Wick Terrell made some good points:
At $2.625 million, Billy sets a pretty nice baseline for his further arbitration years, as his future salaries will be escalated based upon this first year number. And for the Reds’ sake, they’re a bit fortunate that the specific talents that Hamilton brings to the table don’t always garner the types of big paydays in arbitration as, say, dingers and RBIs.
At 53.1 Defensive Runs Saved since the start of the 2014 season, Hamilton ranks as the third most valuable defender in all of baseball in that time according to FanGraphs, while also ranking head and shoulders above the rest of his peers as the best baserunner in the game during that stretch, as well. You’d think that kind of electricity would carry more weight in the negotiation process, but while those skills have found their way into being valued by the likes of fWAR and bWAR, the arbitration system still favors more traditional stats. For instance, Cozart – similarly valuable for his great defense despite subpar offense – earned a comparable $2.35 million in his first arbitration year back in 2014.
So it’s Hamilton’s first big payday, and Cozart hopes it isn’t his last. After this season, Cozart will be a free agent. Whether he’ll still be a Red at the end of this season remains to be seen.