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Rays’ Ryan Yarbrough moving past arbitration loss

Pitcher says the hearing experience was as expected, focus now is on what he does on the mound.
Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough said on a media Zoom call he is more focused on the coming season than his past arbitration hearing.
Rays pitcher Ryan Yarbrough said on a media Zoom call he is more focused on the coming season than his past arbitration hearing. [ Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Feb. 19

Ryan Yarbrough is still going to make a lot of money this year pitching for the Rays, awarded a $2.3 million salary rather than the $3.1 million he sought via arbitration.

And he isn’t going to make much, or say much, about the process or the case, which some considered the first noteworthy arbitration evaluation of a pitcher who was used primarily behind an opener, as Yarbrough was in 2018 and ’19, but not ’20.

“I think it was, like a lot of people, something of an interesting case, but it’s kind of something I’m not trying to dwell on at this point,” Yarbrough said on a Zoom media call after Friday’s workout. “Just glad to be back out here, kind of see everybody again, kind of get back to some semblance of a normal year. So we’re just trying to focus on that and getting ready for the season.”

This was the first year Yarbrough was eligible for arbitration, and the resulting raise was a nice hike from the $578,500 he was due last year before salaries were pro-rated.

Some players have issues with the hearing experience, as they have to listen to team representatives point out poor performance and negative stats. Yarbrough said his agents at Excel Sports Management prepared him well for the hearing, which was conducted via Zoom rather than face-to-face in a hotel meeting room.

“When you go through the process you kind of have an understanding of what you’re kind of getting into, what will be said on both sides,” he said. “For the most part, we were really prepared about kind of everything you were going to hear on both sides. So you understand that’s just kind of the process and you’ve just got to move on and kind of understand it and own it.”

The Rays had been ruled against in their previous six hearings, including earlier this year with first baseman Ji-Man Choi, and are now 7-5 in their 24-season history.

Now, Yarbrough has another battle to deal with, deciding whether to keep the new-look long hair he reported to camp with.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback so far from teammates, maybe not so much from the wife (Nicole). So we’ll have to kind of see which which holds out a little longer, so we’ll have to go from there.”