The Arbitration Process in Major League Baseball: A Battle Over Salaries
The arbitration process in Major League Baseball can be a fickle one, pitting players with three years of service time against their own clubs in a battle over salaries. This system, designed to reward players with more experience, can sometimes lead to unexpected consequences. When a player’s expected raise in arbitration becomes too costly for the team, they may choose not to tender a contract for the upcoming season, leaving the player in a precarious position.
MLB Trade Rumors, known for their accurate predictions, has identified several players from various teams who may become free agents through the non-tender process. These players still possess obvious talents and are viable big leaguers, but their rising salaries have made them too expensive to retain. Among the players on this year’s list are Nick Senzel and Derek Law from the Cincinnati Reds.
Luis Urias – IF (Boston Red Sox)
Luis Urias, a versatile infielder, has been a thorn in the side of the Reds during his time with the Milwaukee Brewers. He has had success at Great American Ball Park, hitting .264/.352/.473 (.825 OPS) in 105 plate appearances. Although his performance slipped in 2023, he still owns a career 97 OPS+. Urias is also known for his solid defense across the infield.
If the Reds choose not to retain Senzel, Urias could fill his role and provide a more proven bat. With a career .796 OPS against left-handed pitchers, Urias would be a valuable addition to the team. His estimated salary of $4.7 million could be a reasonable cost for the Reds, considering the potential upgrade in performance.
Connor Joe – OF/1B (Pittsburgh Pirates)
Connor Joe, a familiar face to the Reds, had a successful season against NL Central teams while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2023. Although he never played a regular season game for the Reds, Joe’s performance caught the attention of the San Francisco Giants, who traded for him. He posted an OBP-driven .760 OPS (107 OPS+) in 472 plate appearances with the Pirates.
While defense is not Joe’s strong suit, his ability to hit left-handed pitchers makes him a valuable bench player and spot starter. With the Reds’ lefty-heavy outfield mix, Joe could provide a right-handed complement. Additionally, his versatility to play first base aligns with the Reds’ strategy of position-switching late in games. At an estimated salary of $2 million, Joe would be a cost-effective alternative if the Reds decide to move on from Senzel.
Ramon Laureano – OF (Cleveland Guardians)
Ramon Laureano brings a mix of power, baserunning skills, and a strong arm to the outfield. Although he had a standout 24-homer season in