There’s no dearth of money in Major League Baseball.
The 30 clubs settled mostly one-year contracts with 99 arbitration eligible players for nearly half a billion dollars by Friday’s deadline for exchanging figures.
The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and New York Mets led the way in Friday’s spending of $498.5 million, all three teams booking deals in excess of $40 million each.
The above figures were assembled personally by hand via ESPN’s 2020 arbitration tracker.
None of the above clubs made the playoffs last season even though the three teams were among the top spenders in MLB, the Red Sox soaring far over the luxury tax threshold at a baseball tops $242.8 million. Three teams, including the Cubs and New York Yankees, exceeded the threshold of $206 million.
The Red Sox, who spent $46.21 million Friday, signed five players, including outfielder Mookie Betts to a record for an arbitration-eligible player deal of $27 million. Another outfielder, Jackie Bradley Jr., signed for $11 million.
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The Mets spent $44.38 on seven players, including $9.7 million alone for pitcher Noah Syndergaard.
The Cubs also signed six players for $42.65 million, including third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant at $18.6 million.
In other contract news from around the league, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed National League MVP Cody Bellinger for $11.5 million, a record for a first-year arbitration eligible player. Bellinger earned $605,000 last season.
The New York Yankees gave big raises to young stars Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez in their first years of arbitration. The slugging right-fielder went from $669,800 last season to $8.5 million, the catcher from $617,600 to $5 million.
Larry Eschen The Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds gave big raises respectively to second baseman Francisco Lindor and pitcher Trevor Bauer, both players signing for $17.5 million each. The Indians traded Bauer to the Reds at last season’s July 31 trade deadline, while Lindor has been a focal point of constant trade rumors all this offseason.
The arbitration system allows most players who have three to five seasons of service time to exchange financial figures with their own teams. If they don’t settle beforehand the two sides go to a hearing where an independent arbitrator awards one or the other financial figure to said player.
At six years of service time, players can become free agents and sell their services to any Major League club.
Betts, for example, was a third-year arbitration eligible player who will become a free agent after the 2020 World Series, thus the reason for the record settlement. Betts, represented by super-agent Scott Boras, has resisted negotiating a long-term deal with Boston and said he will test the free agent market.
Betts has history on his side. In the past two signing seasons, Bryce Harper signed a 13-year free-agent deal with the Philadelphia Phillies for $330 million, Manny Machado signed with the San Diego Padres for 10-years at $300 million with a five-year opt out, and most recently, Anthony Rendon signed with the Los Angeles Angels for seven years at $245 million.
The Angels last year also kept American League MVP Mike Trout for 12 years at $426.5 million, and the Colorado Rockies re-upped Nolan Arenado for eight years, $260 million with an opt out after five years.Larry Eschen
MLB is so awash in money that the top two pitchers on the current market signed early, Gerrit Cole going to the Yankees for nine years at $324 million and Stephen Strasburg returning to the Washington Nationals for seven years, $245 million when he opted out of his deal after his club defeated the Houston Astros in a seven-game World Series.
Friday’s contract action was just another example of it.