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Jose Abreu avoids arbitration, Avisail Garcia holds out

Abreu takes less than expected, while Garcia is still in a salary dispute

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Chicago White Sox
“Can I have some of that extra money?”
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

Friday was the deadline for teams and players to exchange figures for arbitration, and we got a wave of announcements of 2018 salaries for players who forewent arbitration. Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson will earn $23 million, the highest one-year arb-year salary in history. Manny Machado, subject of many a trade rumor, narrowly avoided what might have been a bitter arbitration hearing.

News of player salaries for the White Sox will presumably trickle in over the coming hours and/or days, but we got word yesterday that Jose Abreu has agreed to a one-year contract worth $13 million.

This comes as a surprise to many who expected Abreu to make significantly more money in the upcoming season. MLB Trade Rumors’ annual arbitration projections predicted a $17.9 million payday, and while Matt Swartz’s in-depth look said that might be a bit high, he still put Abreu’s salary in the $17 million range.

$13 million leaves a huge unexplained gap between expectation and reality. Of course, Abreu is a special case because of the fact that his contract allowed him to opt out of guaranteed salaries of $10.5, 11, and 12 million from 2017 to 2019. He achieved just over that fourth-year figure with $10.825 million, but looked to be in line for a significant pay raise after a .304/.354/.552 season that cemented him as one of baseball’s premier hitters. MLBTR overshot last year’s number too, so it seems that Abreu’s unique contract structure, high initial salary, and $10 million signing bonus break the projection model.

This settles one of the White Sox’s remaining six arbitration-eligible cases. On the other hand, we know of one player that did not reach an agreement:

There’s still plenty of time for Avisail Garcia to avoid arbitration, and the difference is small enough that you’d expect this to be resolved by the time a hearing is necessary (they’re taking place February 1-20). $6.7 million is the exact amount MLBTR predicted, while the Sox seem to be banking a bit on Garcia’s breakout being viewed as fluky.

Yolmer Sanchez also didn’t settle but we haven’t heard what the parties filed at.

The White Sox settled with the other three players prior to the deadline to exchange figures: Luis Avilan ($2.45 million), Leury Garcia ($1.175 million), and Carlos Rodon ($2.3 million). Abreu’s new contract, Avi’s filing figure, and the projections for the other four would bring the White Sox’s payroll into the neighborhood of $70 million.