We are about a week away from when salary arbitration starts to get busy, adding some post-holiday fuel to the hot stove season. Here are some dates and information to remember during the arbitration process.
The Dodgers have six players eligible for salary arbitration this offseason — catcher Yasmani Grandal, infielder Justin Turner, outfielder Scott Van Slyke, and pitchers Kenley Jansen, Chris Hatcher and Luis Avilan. The club already avoided arbitration by signing one-year contracts with catcher A.J. Ellis ($4.25 million) and pitcher Joe Wieland ($590,000).
For the remaining six, there are a few dates to remember.
Tuesday, January 12 is the salary arbitration filing date, which is more procedural than anything. This assures that if the two sides can't come to an agreement they will eventually have a hearing in February, with a three-person panel picking one side or the other.
Friday, January 15 is the exchange date, when the two sides each commit to a single salary. Should a hearing be necessary, both sides will argue for their side of the midpoint, though the arbitration panel in their decision will either pick one side or the other, with no in-between.
The exchange date serves as a call to action for many. It is a pseudo deadline of sorts, though in some cases literally.
Some teams use a "file and go" (or "file and trial") negotiating strategy, meaning that if the player and club can't come to an agreement by the exchange date, the club ceases all talks and will instead proceed to the arbitration hearing, confident in its chances to win. Andrew Friedman used this strategy while with the Rays, and in his nine years with Tampa Bay won all five arbitration hearings he contested.
Friedman hasn't divulged whether the Dodgers would use that strategy, but in 2015, the club reached agreements with one of their four remaining players eligible for salary arbitration one day before the exchange date (Chris Heisey) and came to terms with the other three players (Juan Nicasio, Turner, Jansen) on the exchange date itself.
"File and trial" would just be a team policy if enacted, and not a specific rule. Even after the team and player exchange salary figures on Jan. 15, the two sides are allowed, and even encouraged to continue negotiating. The entire system is set up for the two sides to come together somewhere near the midpoint of their respective positions.
Should the team and player not reach an agreement, an arbitration hearing will be scheduled for some time from Feb. 1-21. This year the arbitration hearings will be held in Florida, after 2015 in the Phoenix area. The locations alternate between general spring training locales each year.
The Dodgers haven't been in an arbitration since beating relief pitcher Joe Beimel in 2007. In 2014, they came relatively close, with Jansen reaching agreement with the club one week before a scheduled hearing that would have been in Florida.
We will preview each of the six potential arbitration cases daily this week, beginning with Grandal later on Monday.