When we starting hearing about players avoiding arbitration a few weeks ago, Avisail Garcia was at first the only White Sox player that rumor mongers pointed out had not yet come to terms. Later, it came out that the team had also had trouble finding common ground with Yolmer Sanchez. The Sox filed for a $2.1 million salary, the same as MLB Trade Rumors’ prediction, while Sanchez filed at $2.35 million.
The natural assumption since that point has been that a quarter-million dollars would not be enough to trigger the Sox’s first arbitration hearing in 17 years, and yet here we are. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reporting earlier this afternoon:
Yolmer Sanchez won his arbitration case against the White Sox, per source. He'll make $2.35 million. The White Sox had countered with $2.1 million.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) February 7, 2018
Sanchez’s performance in 2017 was a nice step forward; he hit .267/.319/.413 while playing good defense all around the infield, with an overall profile adding up to 2.1 WAR. The arbiters tend not to understand that stuff, though, so instead I’ll say that Yolmer Sanchez hit .267 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs! Whatever they saw, it was enough to side with Sanchez, and now he will make $2.35 million in 2018.
How the minuscule difference in filing numbers led to this we may never know, but the team’s personal streak of “labor peace” since Keith Foulke’s arbitration in 2001 is officially over. Now we probably have to assume that the Sox are going to arbitration with Garcia too, because the gap in his case is signifcantly larger ($850,000). Of course, that was the one where MLBTR sided with the player.
The question that comes out of Sanchez’s arbitration case is whether the dispute affects the relationship between player and team in any meaningful way. Baseball is a business, of course, but arbitration can be a sticky situation because it involves teams making a case against the players they’ve tried to develop and help succeed. Sanchez has been in the organization since 2009, and the Sox should be trying to avoid bad blood with a young, talented, homegrown player. Of course, past arbitration holdouts have been prevented from attending SoxFest, and Sanchez was not only there but a fan favorite, so the concerns might be overblown.