Today is another one of those MLB deadlines that baseball writers pay attention to while the rest of America yawns and moves on.
By 1 p.m. Friday the Orioles must agree to a settlement with their arbitration-eligible players or the sides will exchange salary figures.
It's a deadline. It's not a deadline of real concern.
The Orioles have 10 players who are arbitration eligible; if those players and the team can't agree on 2015 salaries by 1 p.m. today then each side will submit a salary figure for this year. If a settlement still isn't reached by a February hearing, then a three-person arbitration panel will pick one of the two submitted numbers and that will be the player's salary for 2015.
Here's the bottom line: Even if figures are exchanged and a hearing date is set, a settlement can be reached up until a hearing is held and a judgment is rendered. All of the players will get paid handsomely and they'll all be back for 2015 – unless the Orioles trade them, etc.
The Orioles have already settled with one player, reliever Tommy Hunter, who will make $4.65 million in 2015 after getting $3 million in 2014.
There often is a flurry of settlement activity nationally before today's deadline. There's no harm in exchanging figures, but some clubs don't like to put a unilateral price tag on a player; they'd rather agree to a deal without getting to that point.
Most teams would prefer not going to a hearing with a player, too. There's a perception that it's detrimental for a team to explain why a player shouldn't be worth his stated figure and then expect him to go out and play well after being criticized by his team. I'm not sure I buy that – these guys deal with criticism continually -- but that is the perception.
Because the Orioles have so many arbitration-eligible players this year, I'd expect a couple cases will end up at a hearing. The players and agents may want to think twice, though. The Orioles have lost just one case under Peter G. Angelos' ownership and under current general counsel H. Russell Smouse, the Orioles are 7-0 in arbitration.