Cleveland Indians third baseman.. er.. right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall is expected to receive nearly a million dollar raise in the event and the team do not reach an agreement before arbitration court. According to MLB Trade Rumors' projections -- which have proven accurate in the past -- Chisenhall is expected to be awarded a $3.0 million contract by an arbitration panel.
Lonnie and the Indians reached an agreement prior to 2015, his first season of arbitration eligibility. At that time, MLB Trade Rumors had him projected at $2.2 million, and the two parties came close to that with the Indians granting Chisenhall a $2.25 million contract.
Arbitration panels are not known for their love of sabermetrics, but Lonnie is coming off his best season of his career in terms of WAR. His 2015 fWAR of 2.1 topped his breakout 2014 season’s 1.9 fWAR. The primary stats that an arbitration panel is likely to use -- average, home runs, RBI -- all suffered a decline this season. His 2015 home runs (7) are down from 2014 (13), his 2015 average (.246) is down from 2014 (.280), and his RBI totals in 2015 (44) are down from 2014 (59). However, Lonnie spent the first half of the year struggling as the Tribe’s third baseman before spending a month in Triple-A and eventually converting to right field and surging to end the season.
A lot of his value now will come from the fact that he can play two defensive positions effectively, and his bat still has great (albeit streaky) potential.
Assuming Chisenhall does receive a $3.0 million contract -- whether through arbitration, or more likely, avoiding it with a contract beforehand -- he may still not be the most expensive arbitration-eligible player on the Tribe.
The Indians have seven arbitration-eligible players for 2016:
- Josh Tomlin (4.151) – $3.1MM
- Bryan Shaw (4.081) – $2.8MM
- Lonnie Chisenhall (3.158) – $3.0MM
- Zach McAllister (3.077) – $1.0MM
- Cody Allen (3.076) – $3.5MM
- Nick Hagadone (3.056) – $600K
- Jeff Manship (2.130) – $700K
Josh Tomlin is expected to receive a $3.1 million salary in arbitration. The Little Cowboy is coming off of an injury-shortened season that saw him post a career-low 3.02 ERA and a career-high 22.7 K%. Tomlin also finished the season with a win/loss record of 7-2, which would help in arbitration court.
The Indians avoided arbitration court last year with Tomlin by granting him a $1.5 million dollar salary. MLB Trade Rumors had him projected at $1.7 milliion.
Closer Cody Allen is due for a huge raise in 2016. If he comes close to his $3.5 million projection, it’d be nearly a $3.0 million raise. This is Allen’s first year of salary arbitration eligibility. He set a new career-high for saves with 34, although his ERA inflated to 2.99 from last year’s 2.07 ERA. Thanks to an increased strikeout rate (34.6% in 2015, up from $32.6% in 2014) and a lower walk rate (8.7% in 2015, down from 9.3% in 2014), his FIP was a caeer-best 1.82 this season. Similarly, his fWAR reached a new high at 2.6. But again, these stats are not likely to come into play in arbitration court, although the Indians could be factoring them into their own contract negotiations with their star-in-the-making closer.
No matter what newly-appointed Indians general manager Mike Chernoff decides to do, he and the rest of the front office will have until February 2016 to decide. Last year, the Indians avoided arbitration with all six of their arbitration-eligible players by mid-January.