The Angels avoided arbitration with pitcher Garrett Richards late last week when he agreed to a 2015 salary of $3.2 Million. He had wanted $3.8 Million and the team had offered him $2.4 Million. The halfway point on that would have been at $3.1 Million.
The extra hundred grand that is going Garrett's way can be considered the first volley in an extended attempt by the team to get Richards signed to a contract extension. An arbitration hearing would have been a disaster for the relationship between team and player. This is why most arbitration cases end with pre-hearing settlements. No player wants to be in the room where the team disparages the player in order to get his cost down and no team wants to have that bad blood circulating at future contract negotiations.
Richards has three more arbitration deadlines set with the Angels before each of the next three seasons. He is a free agent after the 2018 season. Is it in the best interests of the team to buy out even one year of free agency with a four year contract offer at some point this season? No player on the team right now probably understands how quickly one little slip and fall on the field can take the whole game/career away as much as Richards.
Negotiations will likely happen during the season.
Matt Joyce is the only arbitration case left awaiting the club this offseason. Acquired for Kevin Jepsen in December, Joyce has one year left before free agency. The midpoint between the exchanged numbers is $4.85 Million in his case.