The players—utility outfielder-infielder Mike Carp, newly acquired reserve infielder Jonathan Herrera, rehabbing left-handed reliever Andrew Miller and set-up reliever Junichi Tazawa—are entitled to arbitration hearings, if they wish, as they have played more than three years in the major leagues and less than the six seasons required to be eligible for free agency. Regardless of whether the player or the team wins the hearing, they will remain on the Boston Red Sox roster.
As with Badenhop, the players may settle with the Red Sox at any point before the scheduled hearing date on a contract for the coming season. In the lifetime of the John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino ownership, having any player actually reach the hearing process is extremely rare, once in 13 seasons.
In fact, the last player to have a hearing was Rolando Arrojo in 2002 according to Maury Brown, webmaster of The Biz of Baseball. The last player to defeat the Red Sox at a hearing was Tim Wakefield in 1997.
The philosophy of avoiding arbitration hearings goes back former general manager Theo Epstein.
An ugly process, where essentially the team argues in front of a judge that their player is not worth as much as the player thinks they are, Epstein reasoned that avoiding having to show a player their worth to the team increases the chance that player will extend their contract past the six-year threshold triggering free agency.
Of the names still to settle, Tazawa played the biggest role for Boston last year.
Estimated by MLB Trade Rumors to make $1.1 million in 2014, Tazawa was the primary set-up reliever in the eighth inning for closer Koji Uehara. Appearing in 71 games, Tazawa had a won-loss record of 5-4 with an ERA of 3.16. Tazawa showed the Fenway Faithful pinpoint control, walking 12 and striking out 72 in 68.1innings. Tazawa is not eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season.
In 86 games, Carp hit .296, slugged nine home runs while driving in 43. MLB Trade Rumors projects the 28-year-old is in line to make $1.3 million. A player the Red Sox feels is vital to have on their bench, Carp is being speculated on in the press as being a trade chip if the Red Sox go after a pitcher or a power-hitting outfielder. Hitting the prime years of his career, he is too good to be strictly a bench player. Carp has three more seasons before he can become a fee agent.
Miller is returning after missing the postseason with an injury. Before going down, the 29-year-old flourished in 37 appearances, striking out 48 in only 30.2 innings. A possible free agent after this season, Miller is projected to earn $1.9 million.
Herrera comes to Boston from the Colorado Rockies. Acquired for reliever Franklin Morales, Herrera figures to spell Dustin Pedroia at second and short. A solid player in Denver, Herrera is in line for roughly $1.2 million and is under Sox control through the end of 2015.
*All statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference.Tags: Andrew Miller, arbitration, Baseball, Boston, Boston Red Sox, Burke Badenhop, Jonathan Herrera, Junichi Tazawa, Mike Carp, MLB