A total of 146 players filed for arbitration Tuesday. Next up in the process is a Friday deadline for clubs and the eligible players to exchange desired salary figures for a one-year contract.
Players with at least three seasons of Major League service time and less than six seasons are generally eligible for arbitration. While the player is still controlled by the club during this three-year span of his career, negotiations on a salary can often be protracted throughout the winter and stretch into the start of Spring Training.
Negotiations can continue up until the minute that an arbitration hearing is set to begin. This year, the hearings can be slated anywhere between Feb. 1-21. Once the hearing begins, a three-person arbitration panel listens to the cases presented by the team's counsel and the player's agent or counsel. Usually one day later, they determine whether the player will earn his side's desired salary or the club's.
The Reds usually settle with their players on contracts before it comes to this. They have not had a hearing against one of their own players since defeating pitcher Chris Reitsma in arbitration in 2004.
Regardless of the outcome, the arbitration-eligible player stands to make a significant raise from the salary he earned during his first three years in the big leagues. Players with zero to three years of service time generally make near the Major League minimum at salary figures determined by their clubs. According to Article VI of MLB's Basic Agreement, arbitration-eligible players are paid relative to similar players in terms of performance and service time. Other criteria can include a player's "leadership and public appeal," the length and consistency of his career contribution and recent performances by the team.
In recent history, the Reds have signed arbitration-eligible players for more than one year. Last February, pitcher Mat Latos avoided two hearings in one move by signing a two-year, $11.5 million contract. Unless given an extension, he will be third-year arbitration eligible next winter.
Last week, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said he was hoping to sign Bailey to a multi-year contract this winter. Bailey can become a first-time free agent after the 2014 season.
To avoid arbitration last year, Bailey was signed to a one-year, $5.35 million contract and went 11-12 with a career-best 3.49 ERA in 32 starts. He also reached career bests in innings with 209 and strikeouts with 199. On July 2 vs. the Giants at Great American Ball Park, he threw the second no-hitter of his career.
Leake was signed for $3.06 million last winter and posted a 14-7 record and 3.37 ERA in 31 starts and 192 1/3 innings. All were career bests.
Heisey was signed for $1.325 million and batted .237/.279/.415 in 2013 with nine home runs and 23 RBIs. Signed for $890,000 to avoid arbitration, Simon had a 2.87 ERA in 63 appearances and worked higher-profile situations because of injuries in the bullpen.
Under the terms of the six-year, $30.25 million free-agent contract he signed in 2010 after defecting from Cuba, Chapman could convert the $3 million he's owed for 2014 into a bonus if he were eligible for arbitration. In 2013, he earned $2 million while posting 38 saves in 43 chances with a 2.54 ERA in 68 appearances.
LeCure made $510,000 for Cincinnati last season and also found himself working in an increased role in the bullpen while posting a 2.66 ERA in 63 games.