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Rays avoid arbitration with Randy Arozarena, but not seven others

The team and the slugging outfielder came to an agreement on a one-year, $4.15 million contract for the 2023 season.
 
The Rays' Yandy Diaz (2) congratulates Randy Arozarena (56) after the outfielder hit a home run during a 2021 game against the Red Sox at Tropicana Field. The Rays came to an agreement on a one-year, $4.15 million contract with Arozarena. They'll go to arbitration with Diaz.
The Rays' Yandy Diaz (2) congratulates Randy Arozarena (56) after the outfielder hit a home run during a 2021 game against the Red Sox at Tropicana Field. The Rays came to an agreement on a one-year, $4.15 million contract with Arozarena. They'll go to arbitration with Diaz. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Jan. 13, 2023

Randy Arozarena will get his big pay raise.

The Rays and the slugging outfielder came to an agreement on a one-year, $4.15 million contract for the 2023 season,. Arozarena was one of just seven arbitration-eligible players who came to terms with the club before Friday’s deadline.

The Rays announced that they will head to arbitration with the other seven players; right-handers Jason Adam, Ryan Thompson and Pete Fairbanks; left-handers Jeffrey Springs and Colin Poche; infielder Yandy Díaz; and first baseman/outfielder Harold Ramírez.

Arbitration hearings, in which a panel hears the case for each side, are set for Jan. 30-Feb. 17. Teams can continue to negotiate up until they walk into the room, but the Rays traditionally have not come to terms after the deadline and went to arbitration. The team had lost six straight cases before winning against Ryan Yarborough in the spring of 2021.

In addition to Arozarena, the Rays announced that they agreed to terms with right-handers Shawn Armstrong, Yonny Chirinos and Andrew Kittredge; left-hander Jalen Beeks; and catchers Christian Bethancourt and Francisco Mejía.

Kittredge agreed to a deal worth $2.075 million and Beeks to a $1.375 million settlement. Mejia agreed to $2.155 million and Armstrong $1.2 million. Bethancourt settled at $1.35 million.

Arozarena made $716,000 last season, so this is a significant bump in his first year of arbitration eligibility. He is one of the 2% of “young” players who earned an extra year of arbitration eligibility, referred to as a Super Two player, because he was called up early in his rookie season.

His salary boost came from an 8.0 WAR over his first four seasons in the big leagues. He’s a career .269/.344/.463 hitter with an .807 OPS and a 130 OPS+. He has 48 career homers, not including his 11 postseason homers. Four of those came in the 2020 American League Championship Series, when Arozarena was named MVP.

Diaz and Springs are the Rays’ two other higher-profile arbitration-eligible players.

Diaz, in his second year of arbitration eligibility, hit nine homers with an .824 OPS last season for a 3.5 WAR. He made $2.8 million in 2022. He is projected to make $5.4 million this year, according to MLBTradeRumors, who does a fairly accurate annual projection of arbitration settlements.

Springs, 30, made 25 starts for the Rays last season and eight appearances in relief. He went 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA, striking out 144 over 135-1/3 innings pitched. The lefty made $716,000 last year, and MLBTradeRumors projects him to get a $3 million contract for 2023.

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