ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pittsburgh beat first baseman Ji-Man Choi in salary arbitration on Friday while Seattle outfielder Teoscar Hernández and St. Louis pitcher Génesis Cabrera went to the last two hearings of the year.
Choi got a raise from $3.2 million to $4.65 million instead of his $5.4 million request in a decision by Jeanne Charles, Allen Ponak and Melinda Gordon, who heard the case a day earlier. The 31-year-old hit .233 with 11 homers and 52 RBIs for Tampa Bay and made $3.2 million, then was traded to the Pirates in November for a minor leaguer.
Teams hold an 8-5 lead with six decisions to be issued Saturday.
Hernández will set a record win or lose for highest salary awarded in arbitration, though there have been larger deals in negotiated agreements. He asked for a raise from $10.65 million to $16 million, and the Mariners argued for $14 million in a case heard by Mark Burstein, John Woods and Howard Edelman. The previous high for an arbitration award was $13.5 million by pitcher Gerrit Cole in his 2019 win over Houston and by pitcher Max Fried in his loss to Atlanta this year.
An All-Star in 2021, Hernández hit .267 with 25 home runs and 77 RBIs in 131 games last season for Toronto, then was traded to Seattle in November for right-hander reliever Erik Swanson and minor league lefty Adam Macko. Hernández, 30, is eligible for free agency after this year’s World Series.
Cabrera asked for a raise from $719,200 to $1.15 million, and the Cardinals argued for $950,000 during a hearing before Jules Bloch, Scott Buchheit and Fredric Horowitz. The 26-year-old left-hander was eligible for arbitration for the first time after going 4-2 with a 4.63 ERA in 39 relief appearances.
Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe ($11.9 million vs. $11.25 million) and infielder Gio Urshela ($10 million vs. $8.4 million) will learn the decisions of their cases on Saturday along with Tampa Bay relievers Ryan Thompson ($1.2 million vs. $1 million) and Colin Poche ($1.3 million vs. $1,175,000).
The 19 hearings this year were up from 13 last year and the most since 22 in 2018.
Arizona pitcher Josh Rojas lost his case on Thursday and will get $2,575,000 rather than $2.9 million. Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen attended the hearing.
“Even the fact he was there, that’s a rarity,” Rojas said Friday. “GMs and front office people try to stay away from that situation, just because it’s tough to bash a player when you’re paying them to perform on the field. So it meant a lot for him to show up.”
“There’s definitely some playing with the numbers, some things they throw out there you disagree with, but that’s what they’re in there to do. They’re there to show the judges that you are worth less than the middle number. Our job on our side is to show we’re worth more than the number. When you sign up for the process, you know what you’re signing up for.”
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