Third baseman Chase Headley reached agreement on a new contract with the Padres on Wednesday. The Reds inked outfielder Chris Heisey and reliever Alfredo Simon on Thursday morning, and before the day was over, Martin Prado completed a four-year deal with the D-backs.
The timing wasn't a coincidence. In each case, those parties avoided salary arbitration as the clock was ticking. Hearings are scheduled to begin Monday and continue through February 21.
As of midday Friday, after left-hander Marc Rzepczynski and the Cardinals came to terms on a one-year contract, there were 15 unsigned players who had filed for arbitration.
Unsigned players who filed for arbitration
The Orioles have two of the more interesting unresolved negotiations on the table. Right-hander Jason Hammel, who in his first season with Baltimore last year made $4.75 million while going 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 20 starts, filed a $8.25 million request. The Orioles countered with $5.7 million. The $2.55 million difference is the largest among the remaining players eligible for the process.
The O's are also dealing with All-Star closer Jim Johnson, who racked up 51 saves last year. They are $1.4 million apart. Baltimore has a third player, right-hander Darren O'Day, on the list.
Even after coming to terms with Heisey and Simon, the Reds still had four more players who can go through a hearing. One is the recently acquired outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and the others are pitchers Homer Bailey, Mat Latos and Mike Leake. The Cardinals face a potential hearing with third baseman David Freese.
In addition to Hammel and Johnson, six other players are seeking at least $5 million: Choo ($8 million), Detroit pitcher Max Scherzer ($7.4 million), Bailey ($5.8 million), Washington pitcher Jordan Zimmermann ($5.8 million), San Diego pitcher Clayton Richard ($5.55 million) and Colorado outfielder Dexter Fowler ($5.15 million).
Most cases are settled near the midpoint between the two figures. If a case does go to a hearing, a three-person panel listens to arguments from both sides and then must choose one number or the other.