Walt Jocketty appears to have been pretty busy. First he had to trade for an ace, and then for the best left-handed reliever in baseball. That’s not even including trying to resign our Francisco Cordero, and work out an extension with Brandon Phillips. So it’s no surprise, really, that he hasn’t gotten around to these small fry, yet. After all, that’s one of the advantages of team control – even if you do have to pay the slightly higher arb-salaries: we know these guys aren’t going anywhere. Of course, the fact that we haven’t heard anything doesn’t mean all that much; Walt could have five signed deals on his desk, and just hasn’t bothered to put out the press release yet.
Still, we’re less than a month away from the due date, and it at least seems like there are lot of contracts still to be worked out. And if Walt’s trying to squeeze every possible penny into this year’s squad (which he appears to be doing), I would think he’d want to know how much these guys are going to make. Afterall, the total uncertainty between Bill Bray, Homer Bailey, Jose Arredondo, Nick Masset, and Paul Janish, while not enormous, could end up being significant.
This is even more interesting in light of Walt’s historical habits. It’s been brought up that the Reds haven’t gone through arbitration since 2004 with Chris Reitsma. But still, the Reds actually had 8 arbitration cases between 1999 and 2004. Arbitration was a little more popular back then, but evidently Jim Bowden was still a pretty big fan of it. In contrast, in Walt’s 17 years as a GM, he’s only gone to one arbitration hearing. (The player was Darren Oliver (who I was amazed to realize was still playing baseball this fall), and the Cardinals won). That’s actually not that uncommon. Most of the GMs still in baseball do not rely heavily on arbitration, and a lot of the long-time GMs avoid it: Theo Epstein’s never gone, Kenny Williams once, and Dan Dombrowski only once in recorded history (it’s a little difficult to find data for the 1990 Expos…)
In any case, you have to think that Walt’s not interested in going to arbitration this year either, which means there may be a lot of contracts to sign between now and February. Incidentally, January 13 (one week from today) is the deadline for players to file arbitration – not that big of a deal – if the date rolls around, you file, and plenty of players sign afterwards. Then on Jan. 17, the players and teams submit their figures, and that’s when a lot of deals get done – one year, midpoint deals are the norm, and if there’s still no deal, the actual hearings take place between Feb.1 and Feb. 21.
But maybe Mr. Jocketty just figures it’s not worth the effort this year. I wouldn’t blame him – he’s already done a mountain of work this winter.