It came down to the wire, but Cleveland has officially avoided arbitration with all of their eligible players for 2021.
The problem of paying Francisco Lindor was dealt with by trading him to the Mets, while Delino DeShields, Tyler Naquin, and Adam Cimber were all released or traded earlier in the offseason. Nick Wittgren agreed to a $2 million deal in December to avoid going to court.
Now, according to Zack Meisel and others citing anonymous sources, Cleveland has agreed to the following deals with their remaining eligible players on the day figures for arbitration court needed to be submitted:
- Austin Hedges: $3.28 million
- Amed Rosario: $2.4 million
- Phil Maton: $975,000
Austin Hedges’ deal is slightly over MLB Trade Rumors’ highest-paying estimate, but the other two fall right in line with what was projected — albeit at the higher end. Phil Maton was expected to receive between $700,000 and $1 million, and Amed Rosario was expected to land between $1.8 million and $2.6 million.
While Cleveland technically could have kept negotiating with any of these players right up until court sessions begin in February, it doesn’t happen often. Once figures are exchanged, negotiations will frequently be sidelined until the court date, like Cleveland did with Trevor Bauer in 2019.
Reaching these deals, as small as they may be for most payrolls, avoids the messy and sometimes dramatic process of arguing in court why a player (presumably a player that the team would like to keep playing for them and maybe sign a contract extension someday in the future) is, on second thought, terrible and not worth the money he’s asking for.
There are still 32 pre-arbitration players on the 40-man roster that need to be paid, but you can expect them to make the league minimum of around $575,000. Assuming they do, that puts Cleveland’s Opening Day payroll heading into 2021 at $41.5 million, the lowest it has been since 2004.