The Phillies have five players eligible for arbitration this offseason and on Friday, they offered contracts to each of them keeping them from becoming free agents. Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis, Luis Garcia, Cesar Hernandez and Cameron Rupp all received qualifying offers for the 2018 season.
This is the last year of Galvis’ arbitration eligibility and he will be a free agent following the 2018 season if he isn’t signed long-term. Last season, Galvis was paid $4.35-million and could see a somewhat substantial raise of over $2-million for the upcoming season. In each of the past two seasons, Galvis and the Phillies have avoided arbitration by agreeing on a contract during the winter.
Hernandez also avoided arbitration last year, his first year of arbitration eligibility, by agreeing to a $2.55-million deal with the Phillies. It’s possible that the 27-year old will also see an increase in the neighborhood of $2-million in his second year of eligibility.
The other three players are in their first year of salary arbitration. Franco is a “super-two” player, meaning that he will have four years of salary arbitration rather than the usual three based on his service time that he has accrued in the majors.
While Franco was an easy decision to offer arbitration to, the Phillies haven’t been completely enamored with his performance and believe that he has underachieved offensively. Franco finished last season with 24 home runs, but hit just .230, the lowest of any season in which he has played at least 80 games. Franco did cut down on his strikeouts and over the past two seasons has hit 49 home runs, which should equate to a decent bump in salary from the $0.56-million he made last season to somewhere near the $3-million mark.
Garcia, 30, was also a pretty easy decision for the Phillies after he pitched in 66 games last season and posted a career-low ERA of 2.65. The right-hander struck out 60 batters in 71 1/3 innings of work out of the bullpen. Garcia made the major league minimum of $0.56-million in 2017 and will likely double that for 2018.
The toughest call came on catcher Cameron Rupp, who saw his offensive production fall last season. After hitting .252 in 2016, Rupp hit just .217 last season, although his home run output was actually up when you consider that he hit 14 home runs in 331 plate appearances last season compared to 16 in 419 plate appearances in 2016. Rupp split time with Jorge Alfaro in the latter part of the 2017 season. The Phillies also have Andrew Knapp as a young catcher, but Knapp missed a considerable amount of time with an injury last season.
The next step is for the two sides to officially exchange salary numbers and hopefully, be able to reach a middle-ground on a contract for next season. The two sides could also agree to a multi-year extension which would erase remaining arbitration eligibility. If the two sides can’t agree on a deal, the case goes to an arbitration hearing where each side gives their reasons for the amount that they requested and an arbiter decides on which number is realistic for the player. Those hearings begin next month.