Red Sox avoid arbitration drama

January, 18, 2013
1/18/13
7:29
PM ET
There will be no salary arbitration drama this winter for the Red Sox, who have made a point of keeping it that way for more than a decade, Rolando Arrojo in 2002 the last Sox player to go to an arbitration hearing. David Ortiz flirted with the idea last winter, settling only hours before his hearing was scheduled to be held.

The Sox began this arbitration season with nine players eligible. They have reached agreements with eight -- catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia on Thursday, the other seven on Friday -- inflating their 2013 payroll by just more than $32 million in the process.

Only one arbitration-eligible player remains unsigned -- left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, and he and the club are only $50,000 apart in the dollar figures they submitted. That’s the lowest spread of any of the 36 arbitration-eligible players who remain unsigned, according to the Associated Press. Breslow is asking for $2.375 million. The Sox offered $2.325 million. The case promises to be slightly less complicated than negotiating a debt-ceiling deal.

One other Red Sox player, reliever Alfredo Aceves, actually reached the stage of swapping figures, according to the AP, but quickly came to agreement on a $2.65 million deal, the midpoint between what Aceves had sought and the team was offering.

This winter might have offered far greater intrigue if Jacoby Ellsbury had been able to stay healthy last summer. Ellsbury, who was paid $8.05 million in his second year of arbitration after his breakout 2011 season, might have been in line for some eye-popping numbers had he been able to repeat that performance in 2012, especially with Scott Boras as his agent. But less than two weeks into the season, Tampa Bay’s Reid Brignac fell on the sliding Ellsbury at second base, sidelining the center fielder with a partially dislocated right shoulder for three months.

So much for a big jump in salary. The Sox and Ellsbury agreed on a one-year, $9 million deal.

The arbitration process was good for newly acquired closer Joel Hanrahan, an All-Star in Pittsburgh the last two years, whose salary jumped to $7.04 million from the $4.1 million he was paid last season. Hanrahan remains under Red Sox control for one more year before he is eligible for free agency in 2014.

Andrew Bailey, the man Hanrahan replaces as closer, was on a similar salary track, having been paid $3.9 million after the second of two All-Star years with Oakland. But like Ellsbury, Bailey was derailed by injury, and in his second year of arbitration eligibility, when ordinarily he could have expected a major bump, Bailey signed for $4.1 million.

Other Sox arbitration-eligible players who signed:

-- Daniel Bard, $1.8625 million
-- Andrew Miller, $1.475 million
-- Franklin Morales, $1.4875 million
-- Saltalamacchia, $4.5 million, announced Thursday.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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