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Dodgers avoid salary arbitration with Julio Urías, per reports

LHP gets one-year, $8 million contract

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers-Workouts Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers came to an agreement on a 2022 contract with pitcher Julio Urías before Tuesday’s deadline to exchange salary arbitration figures. The left-hander signed a one-year, $8 million contract, per multiple reports.

The MLB Trade Rumors arbitration projections tabbed Urías at $8.8 million in 2022. My guess in Janaury for Urías was on the low end, at $7.2 million.

The Dodgers signed all three remaining players eligible for salary arbitration before Tuesday’s deadline. Shortstop Trea Turner signed a one-year, $21 million contract, and Caleb Ferguson reached a one-year, $762,500 contract in his first year of eligibility, the latter per Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times.

That means the Dodgers will avoid a salary arbitration hearing in 2022.

The Dodgers’ modus operandi under Andrew Friedman has been “file and trial,” meaning if player and team can’t come to an agreement by the exchange date, the two sides will no longer negotiate on a one-year deal, instead preparing for the arbitration hearing. This is a strategy Friedman employed with the Rays as well.

Exceptions have been made for multi-year contracts, including Max Muncy’s three-year deal and Chris Taylor’s two-year pact in 2020, as well as the two-year contracts in 2021 for pitcher Walker Buehler and catcher Austin Barnes.

Urías shined in his first full season as a starting pitcher, posting a 2.96 ERA in 32 starts with 195 strikeouts against only 38 walks in 185⅔ innings. The left-hander also led the majors with 20 wins and tied for seventh in NL Cy Young Award balloting, receiving a trio of fifth-place votes.

With four years, 117 days of major league service time, Urías is going through salary arbitration for the third time. He made $1 million in 2020 as a Super Two, then $3.6 million last year.

Late precedent

Because of the 99-day MLB lockout, the usual timetable for salary arbitration, along with many other schedule aspects, was upended this year. MLB hearings could be held during the season, which amazingly has happened before.

After the strike wiped out the World Series in 1994 and extended into 1995, the regular season started on April 25 and arbitration hearings were held in May and June. From Ronald Blum at the Associated Press that year, “Among the 31 post-strike cases that were settled before hearings, 24 players wound up with 1995 salaries at the midpoint between the figures submitted by each side in April.”

Among those settlers was Dodgers pitcher Ramón Martínez, who sought $4.5 million in 1995 while the team offered $3.35 million. They split the difference, signing a contract worth $3.925 million on May 15, just before he pitched seven scoreless innings against the Pirates, already five starts into his season.

“I’ve never been to arbitration but this way is a lot easier,” Martínez told Albert Bui at the San Bernardino Sun. “I didn’t think it would go to arbitration. I thought we could work out a deal but I was ready for anything.”

Dodgers payroll

With all three salary arbitration cases avoided on Tuesday, the Dodgers have 22 players under contract for 2022. Factoring in estimated salaries for players with between zero and three years of service time, the Dodgers payroll for competitive balance tax purposes is at roughly $290 million. That includes $34 million for Trevor Bauer, who is currently on administrative leave while under MLB investigation, and it doesn’t yet count infielder Hanser Alberto, whose one-year contract is expected to be finalized soon.

The new fourth threshold tier for competitive balance tax is $290 million. As a payor for a second year in a row, the Dodgers would pay a 90-percent tax on any payroll amount over $290 million.