Jesús Aguilar held to his guns and challenged the Miami Marlins in arbitration, and won.
The Miami Marlins had initially offered $2.325 million to Aguilar, who had insisted on a salary of $2.575. It was the smallest difference of those seeking arbitration this offseason, but that’s not to say it wasn’t worth it for Aguilar. The $250K difference is more than the “average” United States citizen makes in four years. Since baseball players are signed strictly on supply and demand, the players should be trying to get whatever they can. If there’s someone willing to pay it, why not ask?
In addition to Aguilar’s case, Brian Goodwin won his case against the Los Angeles Angels for $2.2 million, and Aledmys Díaz was awarded $2.6 million in his case versus the Houston Astros.
In other cases this offseason, the baseball teams have come out on top a majority of the time. Namely, the cases of Joc Pederson (Los Angeles Dodgers), Eduardo Rodriguez (Boston Red Sox), Shane Greene (Atlanta Braves), Josh Hader (Milwaukee Brewers), Jose Berrios (Minnesota Twins), and Tony Wolters (Colorado Rockies). In addition to the three today, Pedro Baez (Dodgers) is the only other player that has won his case.
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The conclusion of these cases leave a total of only three still yet to be decided. Of particular note for Miami Marlins fans, the Philadelphia Phillies and J.T. Realmuto remain $2.4 million apart, at $12.4 million and $10 million, respectively. The Phillies are also still at odds with Hector Neris ($5.2M and $4.25M). Archie Bradley and the Arizona Diamondbacks ($4.1M and $3.625M) is the only non-Phillies case remaining. All figures courtesy of the MLB Trade Rumors Arbitration Tracker.
Aguilar, who will turn 30-years-old around the midpoint of the 2020 campaign, slashed .236/.325/389 in 131 games last year between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Brewers. He clubbed a dozen home runs with 50 RBI between the two teams. In 2018, he turned in an All-Star caliber season with a line of .274/.352/.539 with 35 dingers and 108 RBI in 149 contests while still with Milwaukee.
The Miami Marlins are hoping for a healthy dose of 2018 Aguilar and a lot less of the 2019 version. Maybe starting their association with him by haggling over a symbolic and nearly inconsequential dollar amount (for them) may not have been the right strategy in terms of building a relationship. In a larger sense, the Marlins showed a willingness to take on a player for nickel-and-dime level games, perhaps signifying an unwillingness to negotiate with other players in the future. They did, however, pick up Aguilar off waivers, and from their point of view, he probably should have considered himself lucky to get whatever he could from them. Whatever the case, the case is now closed.
The bottom line for the Marlins is that they now have $55.111 million tied up on contracts for this season. Incidentally, that’s just over a quarter of the way to the MLB luxury-tax threshold amount of $208 million. Will the Marlins ever get to that point? Not soon, but maybe later.