The deadline to sign arbitration eligible players before heading to arbitration hearings passed at 1 PM today. The Rays had five arbitration eligible players. The most noteworthy of those five were BJ Upton and David Price. Both got one year deals, with Upton set to make $7 million and Price set to make $4.35 million for 2012. Burke Badenhop also signed a deal today, and he will make $1.075 million for 2012. J.P. Howell was signed last night to a $1.35 million deal for 2012.
The Rays did not get off without heading to a hearing, as they were unable to come to terms with Jeff Niemann. Niemann and the Rays will head to a hearing next month. Andrew Friedman and company have won all four arbitration hearings in Friedman’s tenure, so if history is correct the Rays will win this hearing. We will find out later today how far apart the two sides are.
Overall, the Rays did pretty well signing four of the five. Price was in his first year of arbitration eligibility after his MLB Draft deal. His deal ties Dontrelle Willis for the largest one year deal for a starting pitcher in his first year of eligibility. Overall, $4.35 million is not that much to pay for a guy of Price’s caliber, since he will almost certainly collect 10 wins and strike out 200.
Upton’s deal may seem like a lot for the production, but he is a veteran and veterans make more in arbitration, especially for a guy like Upton who is a consistent starter. Many hope this will be Upton’s breakout season, so we will see if he earns his $7 million.
Badenhop and Howell will both be big middle relievers for the Rays this season. Badenhop was acquired earlier this offseason from the Marlins to provide a veteran arm in the bullpen. Howell will look to bounce back after a rough season and regain his title as Joe Maddon’s go-to reliever.