Can you smell it in the air? It is salary arbitration season now that we have reached the new year, with dozens of pre-free-agency players set for raises this winter, all based on comparable other players in both performance and service time.
The Dodgers already avoided salary arbitration by signing one-year contracts for 2016 with catcher A.J. Ellis and pitcher Joe Wieland. That leaves catcher Yasmani Grandal, infielder Justin Turner, outfielder Scott Van Slyke, closer Kenley Jansen and relief pitchers Chris Hatcher and Luis Avilan still eligible for salary arbitration.
The immediate dates to remember are the filing date of January 12 and the exchange date of January 15. The first date is more of a procedural thing, with both player and club filing for arbitration if the two sides can't agree on a contract. The second date serves more as an impetus to act, with both player and club exchanging salaries, the figures they will argue for should a hearing be required (which would be scheduled from Feb. 1-21, this year in Florida).
Here is a look at Grandal, who with three years, 115 days of major league service time is eligible for salary arbitration for the first time.
Let's first look at catchers with similar service time and production to Grandal, who just turned 27 in November. Here are their career numbers heading into salary arbitration after three years of major league service.
|Comparable arbitration-eligible catchers|
|*Part of multi-year contract; ^qualified as a "Super Two" the previous year|
Ellis heading into 2014 and Napoli in 2010 were in their second year of arbitration after qualifying for Super Two status the previous year, inflating their salaries a bit. Hundley's 2012 salary was part of a multi-year contract, so not perfectly comparable, and Montero might be too long ago with not quite enough production to be comparable to Grandal to date.
That leaves five reasonably comparable catchers going through the arbitration process with three years of service time in the last three seasons. Let's drill down and look at each of their launch seasons heading into arbitration:
|3-year service time catchers' launch years|
MLB Trade Rumors projected a salary of $2.7 million for Grandal.
A rough average of the five closest comps above is just shy of $2.5 million. Bump that a little for inflation, and I'll guess $2.6 million for Grandal in 2016.
These arbitration studies are made much easier thanks to Baseball-Reference, Cot's Baseball Contracts, MLB Trade Rumors and FanGraphs.