The photo Ji-Man Choi posted on Twitter early Friday afternoon of him flexing his muscles was apparently for a reason.
Word came out shortly after that Choi had won his arbitration hearing against the Rays, which means he will make a $2.45 million salary for the coming season rather than the $1.85 million the team had offered. A three-person panel of arbiters made the decision after hearing cases from both sides on Thursday via Zoom.
Either way, Choi, 29, was going to get a nice raise from the $850,000 he was slated to make last season before salaries were pro-rated for the abbreviated season.
In 42 regular-season games, Choi hit .230 with three homers, 16 RBIs and a .741 OPS. He then hit .250 with two homers and four RBIs, with an .837 OPS in 18 postseason games.
In talking with media in his native Korea after the hearing but before the ruling, Choi said, per the Yonhap News Agency, he enjoyed the experience:
“I am a bit tired, but it was a lot of fun because it was my first time doing this,” he said. “The team is exercising its rights, and I am exercising my rights as a player. It was all done in a good spirit.”
The case went to a hearing when the Rays and Choi’s representatives couldn’t agree on a deal by the arbitration filing deadline. The Rays have a policy of cutting off talks at that point and advancing to the hearing.
The strategy usually works in that almost all cases are settled, but they have now lost the last six times they have gone to a hearing, dating back to a 2016 hearing with pitcher Drew Smyly. Overall in their soon-to-be 24-season history, the Rays are 6-6 in arbitration hearings.
They have another next week with pitcher Ryan Yarbrough. The Rays offered $2.3 million; he filed for $3.1 million.