DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is assured of setting a record for an annual salary via the arbitration process. The only question is how high the bar will be set.Arenado was the only one of the Rockies' eight arbitration-eligible players this winter to not reach an agreement before
DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado is assured of setting a record for an annual salary via the arbitration process. The only question is how high the bar will be set.
Arenado was the only one of the Rockies' eight arbitration-eligible players this winter to not reach an agreement before Friday's exchange of figures. Arenado is requesting $30 million while the club is offering $24 million. The sides can negotiate all the way until a hearing is scheduled for sometime next month.
Asked about the arbitration and the prospect of a multi-year contract, Arenado said, "I have no idea. This is a business and anything can happen."
Asked his timetable for getting things done, Arenado said, "I want to get year one done. After that, what happens, happens. But during the season, the last thing I want to talk about is money. I want to focus on winning and helping this team do something special."
No matter what happens with the arbitration process, the Rockies' real goal is to reach a multi-year deal with Arenado, who can become a free agent after the 2019 season. This year's two biggest free agents, outfielder Bryce Harper and infielder Manny Machado, are unsigned, and their eventual contracts will help set Arenado's market.
If a hearing occurs, a three-judge panel is limited to picking either the player's request or the club's offer. In either case, the figure will be higher than the current record -- $23 million to then-Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson last year.
The Rockies have had just four arbitration hearings in their history -- righty reliever Dennys Reyes (2002), righty reliever Sun-Woo Kim ('06), lefty reliever Brian Fuentes ('08) and catcher Wilin Rosario ('15). For those scoring at home, the club won all but the Reyes case.
This offseason, Colorado reached a one-year, $5 million contract with shortstop Trevor Story, whose 37 home runs last season were one fewer than Arenado's National League-leading figure, and right-hander Jon Gray reached an agreement for $2.925 million.
Earlier Friday, ESPN cited sources that said there would be no agreement between Colorado and Gray, and that negotiating was over -- meaning a hearing loomed. But by day's end, there was accord.
Gray struggled in 2018, endured a move to Triple-A Albuquerque and was left off the postseason roster. He finished 12-9 with a 5.12 ERA. But Gray's career body of work, which includes 185 strikeouts in 168 innings in 2016 and a 10-4, 3.67 performance in '17 provided a solid argument in the arbitration process.
Here are other cases that were settled with one-year contract agreements Friday:
• Righty Chad Bettis ($3.325 million) will attempt to pitch his way back into the rotation after blister issues forced him to the bullpen last season. Bettis spent the early part of the offseason at Driveline, a performance facility near Seattle, where he not only worked to correct his delivery but worked on his slider -- a pitch he used in earnest out of the bullpen, after using mostly a cutter previously.
• Lefty Tyler Anderson ($2.625 million) is expected to take a step forward after throwing 176 innings last season and finishing 7-9 with a 4.55 ERA. Because of injuries in the Minors, he had not thrown more than 120 1/3 innings in his pro career, and that was at Class A Asheville in 2012, his first pro season. There was a late-season left shoulder issue, but he finished strong and can build on his relative durability.
• Catcher Tony Wolters ($960,000) is part of a share of the regular duty with veteran Chris Iannetta. While the Rockies have looked at upgrades, especially offensively, they like the way Iannetta and Wolters handled the staff. Wolters made some standout defensive plays last season.
Previously, the Rockies reached one-year agreements with lefty reliever Chris Rusin ($1.6875 million) and righty reliever Scott Oberg ($1.3 million).
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.