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MLB arbitration: Yankees’ Juan Soto to break Shohei Ohtani’s mark with 2024 deal, plus more notable contracts

MLB arbitration: Yankees' Juan Soto to break Shohei Ohtani's mark with 2024 deal, plus more notable contracts

Juan Soto, Pete Alonso and Max Fried are some of the notable arbitration-eligible players for 2024

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Thursday marked the arbitration deadline in Major League Baseball, meaning it’s a big day for the front offices, arbitration-eligible players and fans who track such matters. It is the final day that teams and arbitration-eligible players exchange salary figures for the 2024 season. 

Players with between three and six years of MLB service time have their salaries decided in part by arbitration. In addition, there a select group of players with two-plus years of service time — known as Super Twos — who also join the party. 

Basically, salaries are decided via negotiations between teams and players, but if the two sides can’t reach an agreement, it’ll be sent to a third-party arbitrator to decide which side “wins.” There’s no compromise if it gets to that point: either the player gets his number or the team gets theirs. Neither side wants to end up on the losing end, which means this process spurs back-and-forth negotiation and usually the sides end up agreeing to terms and avoiding arbitration. 

Here’s a roundup of the most notable arbitration news from around the league.

Soto to set arbitration record

Juan Soto is set to break Shohei Ohtani’s salary record for an arbitration-eligible player. The New York Post reports the Yankees have agreed Soto will top Ohtani’s $30 million salary from last season, though they’ve yet to settle on an exact number. Here are the largest arbitration salaries:

  1. Juan Soto, 2024 Yankees: $30-plus-million
  2. Shohei Ohtani, 2023 Angels: $30 million
  3. Mookie Betts, 2020 Dodgers: $27 million
  4. Nolan Arenado, 2019 Rockies: $26 million

Soto qualified as a Super Two, meaning he is at a service time level that allowed him to go through arbitration four times instead of the usual three. The extra year of arbitration combined with his historic early career performance pushed Soto’s 2024 salary into record territory. It seems very unlikely the Yankees will be able to lock Soto up to a long-term contract anytime before Opening Day. They’ll likely have to win a free agent bidding war next offseason to retain him.

Braves, Fried agree at $15 million

The Braves and ace lefty Max Fried avoided arbitration and agreed at a $15 million salary for the 2024 season (via FanSided’s Robert Murray). This is notable because it’s a tough higher than expected (baseball-reference.com estimated he’d end up around $14.4 million, for example) and avoids any contentious negotiations between the two sides. Fried is a free agent after this coming season. The Braves’ rotation has a bunch of question marks — aside from Spencer Strider — moving forward. While most people believe Fried is as good as gone after the season, perhaps this agreement provides a ray of hope for Braves fans. 

Guardians, Bieber agree at $13.125 million

Even if we should stop short of using the word rebuilding, the Guardians are at least looking to reload and Bieber is set to hit free agency after this season. The dollar figure here (via Murray) matters most because now any potential trade partners with the Guardians will know exactly how much Bieber will cost this season. 

White Sox, Cease agree at $8 million

Starting pitcher Dylan Cease has been a hot name on the trading block this offseason, pretty much from the start until and including Thursday. The White Sox are clearly moving into a rebuild and possibly even one that takes years. Cease is under team control through 2025, but an extended rebuild means he won’t be around when the Sox are again ready to contend. As noted with Bieber, the cost certainty makes any potential trade a little less complicated. Teams know exactly what Cease will make in 2024 and that is $8 million (per Murray). 

Other notables

No deal by deadline

The following players were unable to come to an agreement with their current team. As things stand, they are headed for an arbitration hearing, though it’s always possible they’ll agree to terms before said hearing.

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