TORONTO -- The Blue Jays appear destined for arbitration hearings with Marcus Stroman and Roberto Osuna after the star right-handers remained unsigned following Friday's deadline to exchange salary figures.Toronto could not find common ground in negotiations with its closer and potential Opening Day starter, but it came to agreements elsewhere.
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays appear destined for arbitration hearings with Marcus Stroman and Roberto Osuna after the star right-handers remained unsigned following Friday's deadline to exchange salary figures.
Toronto could not find common ground in negotiations with its closer and potential Opening Day starter, but it came to agreements elsewhere. Third baseman Josh Donaldson ($23 million), right-hander Aaron Sanchez ($2.75), outfielder Kevin Pillar ($3.25), second baseman Devon Travis ($1.45), outfielder Ezequiel Carrera ($1.9), left-hander Aaron Loup ($1.813) and right-hander Dominic Leone ($1.085) agreed to one-year deals.
• Donaldson agrees to record $23M deal
Teams and arbitration-eligible players had until Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET to submit a salary number for the 2018 season. If the case proceeds, an independent arbiter will hear from both sides and choose one of the figures for a new contract before the start of Spring Training.
New deals are permitted until the hearing starts, but the Blue Jays are considered a file-and-trial team. That means their policy is to not negotiate a one-year settlement after salary figures are exchanged, but exceptions are made for multiyear deals. Toronto could avoid arbitration with Stroman and Osuna, but it seems far less likely than it was earlier in the week.
"It's difficult," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said when asked about the challenges of dealing with nine cases at one time. "Obviously, the players' representation recognized that and knew it would be more challenging for us. ... We were prepared. It's definitely challenging, but the hard work is done well before. Then it's just a matter of being disciplined in executing what your plan was."
Stroman is coming off a season in which he earned $3.4 million and established himself as one of the top young pitchers in the game. He surpassed 200 innings for the second consecutive year and his 3.09 ERA ranked fourth in the American League among qualified starters. According to multiple reports, Stroman filed at $6.9 million while the Blue Jays submitted an offer of $6.5 million.
Osuna will present a rather unique case at the arbitration hearing. He's entering his first year of arbitration eligibility with three full seasons as a closer under his belt, and he won't turn 23 until next month. The record amount handed out to a closer in his first year of arbitration was Zach Britton's $6.75 million salary in 2016. Britton entered that year with 73 saves, while Osuna currently has 95, but his salary won't approach the record. Osuna filed at $5.8 million and the Blue Jays filed at $5.3 million.
Toronto went almost two decades without taking a player to arbitration, but the streak ended in 2015 when Donaldson and infielder Danny Valencia went through the process. Last year, Stroman won his arbitration hearing after his figure of $3.4 million was picked over Toronto's bid of $3.1 million.
"The arbitration process is such an interesting one," Atkins said. "More and more teams are willing to go and therefore agents are more willing to go. That's cyclical and that's something that evolves over time and will probably shift again. ... For the most part, the player and team end up very, very close. However, the player and team also have done a ton of work, a lot of work, to prepare to ensure that they have their appropriate walkaways and defined positions. Sometimes it just doesn't line up."
With two keys players unsigned, a lot of groundwork remains for the Blue Jays, but Friday's development was still a step in the right direction. Donaldson's contract situation had been one of the more pressing issues the ballclub needed to take care of, and while there is still no indication of serious talks on a long-term deal, Toronto can move forward with more cost certainty for the upcoming season.
"We definitely still have flexbility and we definitely have room to make moves," Atkins said. "We feel like we're in a good position to continue to make our team better. Where that ends, we'll see."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.