Twins, Luis Arraez Avoid Arbitration

7:21PM: Arraez will earn $2.125MM this season, Jon Heyman of The New York Post reports (Twitter link).  This is the exact midpoint between each side’s submitted figure.

7:03PM: The Twins and utilityman Luis Arraez have agreed to a one-year contract for the 2022 season, according to The Athletic’s Dan Hayes and Katie Woo (Twitter link).  The two sides will avoid an arbitration hearing, as a deal wasn’t reached between Arraez and the Twins prior to the deadline for filing arb figures.

Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but Arraez filed for a $2.4MM salary, while the Twins countered with $1.85MM.  (MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected Arraez for a $2MM salary.)  This is the first of four arbitration-eligible years for the 25-year-old, who gained an extra arb year as a Super Two player.

As per the usual “file or trial” tactic, teams usually don’t agree to one-year contracts with players after the filing deadline, preferring to head to a hearing unless a multi-year extension could be struck.  However, the unusual nature of this year’s baseball calendar (due to the lockout) might have made the Twins more open to just a one-year pact with Arraez, perhaps simply to avoid the extra awkwardness of a hearing over a month into the season.

Since making his big league debut in 2019, Arraez has been an extremely valuable member of the Minnesota roster due to both his production at the plate and his versatility in the field.  While playing mostly as a second baseman, Arraez has bounced around to fill in at third base and left field, plus a handful of appearances as a shortstop and first baseman (much of Arraez’s first base time has come this very week, as he has stepped in for the injured Miguel Sano).

At the plate, Arraez is arguably baseball’s best contact hitter, with only an 8.9% strikeout rate over his first 1036 career plate appearances.  This strikeout rate is less than his 9.1% walk rate, and this extreme contact rate has translated to a very solid .313/.375/.403 career slash line (114 wRC+, 115 OPS+).  Arraez doesn’t offer much power or even hard contact, yet the sheer volume of contact has allowed him to become a productive offensive player.

Gary Sanchez is now the Twins’ only remaining arbitration-eligible player whose case has yet to be settled.  As per MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, there are 23 players around baseball who are still headed for in-season arb hearings unless a deal can be worked out before the meeting with the arbiters.

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