Talks continue as deadline looms
UPDATE, 12:55: Rays typically take these talks to the deadline, and it can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or so for the info to get out afterward as they get everything confirmed. Makes sense for several reasons for them to settle all four, but we'll see.
UPDATE, 11:09: Not much of an update, except that it seems talks are ongoing with all four, which can be interpreted as a sign settlements are within reach. Under Rays policy, they technically can continue talks after figures are exchanged if they are discussing a multi-year deal.
BREAKING: The Rays are continuing talks with their four remaining arbitration eligible players this morning, working against a looming 1 p.m. deadline to reach agreements or breaking off talks and heading to hearings next month.
The four include two of their top, and highest paid, players: CF B.J. Upton, who is likely to make $6.5-$7-million, and lefty pitcher David Price, likely in the $4-$4.5-million range. The others are RHP Jeff Niemann, expected in the $2.5-$3-million range, and reliever Burke Badenhop, who should end up around $1-million.
Based on their history, the Rays are likely to settle all or most of the cases. They've gone to hearings only four times in executive VP Andrew Friedman's six years on the job - and won all four (including a 2010 win over Upton).
The deadline is technically just to exchange figures, with the player and the team submitting the salary number they will present to the panel of arbitrators, who would then pick one. But the Rays are among the teams that have what is referred to by some as a "file-and-trial" policy, where they cut off talks once the exchange is made.
They have two reasons for doing so: One is to facilitate a deal, since most don't happen until a deadline looms. And the other is to avoid settling at what they consider an artificial midpoint between the submitted figures, which can be millions apart.
They say they prefer to avoid hearings because they can be uncomfortable for both sides, as the team has to present negative stats about the player, and the player has to argue his worth compared to others.