January 15 was the deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to officially submit salary figures for the 2021, and by the time the day was done, only 13 players didn’t reach agreement on a contract. The majority of teams now adhere to the “file or trial” strategy, meaning that no further negotiations on a one-year deal will take place between the arbitration deadline and a hearing with an arbiter, which theoretically puts pressure on players to get a deal done if they are wary about taking their case to a third party.
“File and trial” tactics didn’t stop the Astros and Carlos Correa from agreeing to a one-year deal for just the 2021 season, which is also Correa’s last year before gaining free agent eligibility. We also saw three multi-year deals reached, all from the greater Los Angeles area — the Dodgers reached two-year deals with Walker Buehler and Austin Barnes, while the Angels inked a two-year pact with Shohei Ohtani.
This left nine unresolved cases that went all the way to a hearing (held over Zoom) between an arbiter, the player, his representative(s), and front office personnel arguing the team’s side.