For the first time since I’ve been writing about the White Sox, the Gang’s All Here/Everybody’s Under Contract post had to wait until after spring training started.
Avisail Garcia joined Yolmer Sanchez not only in facing off against the club in an arbitration, but by winning said hearing. He walked away with his desired figure of $6.7 million, not $5.85 million. The week before, Sanchez came away $225,000 richer after being awarded his $2.35 million filing number.
Comparing the real numbers to what MLB Trade Rumors projected, the difference with the White Sox largely lies in a $4.9 million gap between Jose Abreu’s figures.
The fact that the White Sox headed to arbitration twice in the same offseason after avoiding the process for 17 years lends itself to questions. The chief one was why the White Sox couldn’t close a gap as small as Sanchez’s $225,000. Rick Hahn wasn’t asked that directly, but he still gave an answer while expressing some frustration:
Hahn on arbitration cases. Sox went 0-2 w Garcia, Sanchez. pic.twitter.com/l0VfxEQW5f
— Daryl Van Schouwen (@CST_soxvan) February 14, 2018
When asked if the White Sox approached the process any differently, Hahn stressed, “Not. One. Iota. Not one iota. We negotiated the deals the exact same way that we’ve negotiated, I don’t know, 70-plus of these things over going back over the last 17 years that have settled.
“Again, this year we, for whatever reason when we’re dealing with these agents, we didn’t receive offers that even looked like the filing number, so you wind up in a hearing room.”
If Hahn is representing the issue fairly, then it sounds like the players would rather win in court than settle in private. Hahn has the White Sox’ arbitration-less track record to point to, and there’s also the surge in arbitration hearings around the league suggesting that players and their representation could be using the process to fight back against the layer of ice on the surface of the cold market. Teams couldn’t close even smaller margins than the one Sanchez faced. Mike Foltynewicz ($100,000) and Shelby Miller ($200,000) both had hearings, losing the former and winning the latter.
Garcia’s case was settled after the first official day of White Sox spring training, so he wasn’t around to offer a comment. Sanchez bypassed an opportunity to talk about his hearing:
“I prefer to…[laughs]…don’t ask,” said Yolmer Sanchez, the victor of a $2.35 million salary, with a smile. “You can talk to my agent.”
The extra dollars squeezed out of the White Sox won’t affect any greater plans. The White Sox have just $61.975 million committed to the 2018 payroll, which puts it just around $70 million when accounting for the rest of the roster earning at or near the league minimum. Assuming no 11th-hour signings, the club’s payroll will be at its lowest level since 2004.
The 25-man roster salaries don’t account for the $50+ million the White Sox spent to acquire Luis Robert, so payroll isn’t as precise an indicator as usual when referring to what the White Sox have committed to player acquisition and retention. Even then, that gives the White Sox plenty of room to add going forward, especially considering the team barely clears $10 million in established salaries on the 2019 books.