The Reds and Zack Cozart reached agreement on a one-year contract for the 2015 season that would pay the shortstop $2.35 million (Sheldon). The agreement avoided an arbitration hearing. Cozart is still under Reds’ team control through 2017. Last season, Cozart earned $600,000.

The Reds also reached agreement on a one-year contract with Mike Leake that pays the pitcher $9.775 million (Sheldon). Leake earned $5.9 million in 2014.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement between the MLB and MLBPA stipulates that players have the right to have an arbitrator determine their salary once they have accumulated three years of major league service time. An arbitrator conducts a hearing where each side makes its case. Then the arbitrator chooses between two salary numbers, one presented by the player and one presented by the team.

Teams like to avoid the hearing because it can become adversarial and create ill-will between the club and player. That’s why the vast majority of cases get decided prior to the hearing. The Reds haven’t been through an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they “beat” Chris Reitsma.

Before a player reaches three years of service time, the club sets the salary for major league players, with the CBA-set league minimum serving as the baseline. After a player reaches six years of service time, he becomes a free agent to negotiate with any club.

By end of business today, the clubs and players have to exchange the exact figures they will submit to the arbitrators. Hearings are scheduled between Feb. 1-21. Pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear on Feb. 18. Position players must report by Feb. 23. The first spring training game is March 3.

The Reds still have outstanding arbitration cases with Todd Frazier ($4.6m), Devin Mesoraco ($2.8m) and Aroldis Chapman ($8.3m). Dollar values in parentheses are estimates of 2015 salaries made by Matt Schwartz at MLB Trade Rumors. His projected salary for Cozart was $2.3 million and $9.5 million for Leake.

The Reds have avoided arbitration raises for several players on last season’s roster. They traded Chris Heisey ($2.2m), Mat Latos ($8.4m) and Alfredo Simon ($5.1m). They non-tendered Logan Ondrusek ($2.3m). Simon signed a one-year deal with the Tigers today for $5.55 million.

21 Responses

  1. THEGAFFER

    The amount for Cozart is fine (cant get a replacement for that) but Leake better continue to improve to be worth the same as Cueto. Leake was not even on the postseason roster 2 years ago (and when he was later added stunk).

    • Steve Mancuso

      Leake earned 1.7 WAR (avg of FG and B-R) in 2014, which works out to right around $10 million. He’s as sure a bet for 200 innings as anyone. His K-rate was up and BB-rate down. His contract is about right — and market driven.

      It’s Cueto’s salary ($10 million) that is out-of-whack. His 2014 season was worth $30 million-plus in the open market.

      • reaganspad

        $10.0 is probably right for Leake this year. Next year that goes up and I cannot see spending $12-14 mil per year on Leake. I’ll guess he is a 4-5/$45-65 contract next year.

        The kids are alright for me at that price

      • Thegaffer

        Leake will need to be 2014 version, not 2012-13.

        Next year, Leake will not sign here anyway, so I think the comp pick is a possibility as I doubt he signs for 1 year/16 mil.

  2. JRS1972

    Didn’t Mark twain say he wanted to be in Cincinnati when the world ended because we wouldn’t realize it here until 10 years later? Similarly Cincinnati fans are at least 8 more years away from understanding baseball contracts in 2015.

    • Thegaffer

      Who doesn,t understand? Arbitration figures are well known and everyone knew this is what these guys would sign for since October. No controversy here. I bet Latos signs for 8-9 million.

      Saying you hope they earn it is entirely different.

  3. wvredlegs

    They usually settle almost right in the middle of the two figures submitted. That would mean the Reds were offering Leake right around $8MM and Leake was asking for right around $11.5MM. Some small insight on what an extension for Leake and what Leake would be asking for.

  4. redmountain

    So basically what was expected. Pretty ridiculous process really.

    • ohiojimw

      Is the process ridiculous just because some folks have been able to construct accurate models of what the settlement points will be. Without the deadlines and ultimate risk of a hearing as a framework, I doubt that the work would be done and issues settled as effectively as they are.

      What would you replace it with, a restricted free agency scheme? That could work but I have my doubts that it would be effective without a salary cap to replace the incentives to settle provided by the current system.

  5. Earl

    To much to spend on a no hitting short stop and a slap in the face to mez
    Who is worth way more then cozart

    • ohiojimw

      Cozart got what the market supports under this system as the MLBTR projection on him was dead on. Meso is going to do no worse than the team’s offer of $2.45M which is more than Cozart got. MLBTR projects Meso at $2.8M which is considerably closer to the team’s offer than Meso’s $3.6M request.

      MLBTR projects Frazier at 4.6 which is pretty much in the middle of the range between the team ($3.9) and the player ($5.7)

      If there is anything approaching a real disconnect it is on Chapman. He’s asking for $8.7 against a team offer of $6.65 and an MLBTR projection of $8.3

      • ohiojimw

        BTW, I agree with you that to the Reds Cozart isn’t worth $2.3M. They’d be better served to split the SS time between Suarez and Negron at a total cost of ~$1M and spend the other $1.3M elsewhere.

      • Carl Sayre

        Ok so you say that Cozart isn’t worth the 2.3. The alternatives would have been to non tender him and let him walk for nothing in return or let it go to arbitration were he would have likely received just that. They now have the arbitration out of the way they can continue to shop him or at worst you have one of the top 5 defensive SS still on our roster. I think WJ trades him but the sample size on Saurez is so small I am worried we get similar BA and a sub-par defender.

      • ohiojimw

        I said he wasn’t worth it to the Reds. My strategy with him at this point would not be a lot different than what you said except that I believe he needs to be off the roster before opening day for whatever they can get for him.

        It is water past the bridge by now but I would have tendered him and then let him go for the best I could get for him a lot sooner since they had landed Suarez.

      • Carl Sayre

        I think that is the plan to have him gone by opening day. They take part of ST to be sure about Saurez and see if a team has injuries or young SS didn’t come around to see if there is anymore value.

  6. ohiojimw

    There seems to be no indication either way as to whether the Reds and Leake were talking about a contract beyond this year and if they were, will they continue to. At the least this one year agreement does gives some indication of where the front end would have to start for a Leake multi year deal

    • Shchi Cossack

      3rd year arbitration contracts have virtually translated into FA salaries recently. I like Leake on a 6 year/$60MM contract right now. With Bailey and Leaked both signed, the Reds would be able to pick and choose from their prospects for the remaining 3 starting positions and hold off on promoting some of those pitching prospects for full development before beginning their major league service clock. I think Leake’s durability and effectiveness makes a 6 year contract a reasonable risk. If not, then I have no issue with extending a 1 year/ $16MM offer to Leake for next season and taking the comp pick if he walks.

  7. Art Wayne Austin

    Leake would probably like to play on the coast but he’s the most interesting personality in baseball. Hope he develops like Cueto. He has the same moxie.

  8. Shchi Cossack

    Mesoraco represents a tough comp with 2 seasons of replacement level or below replacement level WAR and then a breakout season or 4.8 WAR. I simply abhor his wasting away on the bench as a serious prospect. Both WJ and the manager were responsible for that decision. Another season of pre-arb eligibility for Mesoraco would look really nice right now from a team perspective.

    I only hope that the delay in signing Mesoraco will be replaced with a contract that buys out 1-2 seasons of FA on the backend. I also wouldn’t mind locking up Frazier for his arbitration seasons and possibly 1 year of FA if possible.

    • ohiojimw

      I wouldn’t go beyond his FA years. He is behind the curve age wise (2015=age 29 season). Exception would be if he would go 4 years on very team friendly terms.