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.