Valencia beats Jays in 1st arb hearing since 1997

Danny Valencia. (Bill Kostroun/AP)

The Toronto Blue Jays’ first arbitration hearing since 1997 didn’t go as planned for the team. An arbitration panel ruled in favour of Danny Valencia following Thursday’s hearing, the Blue Jays announced Friday.

Valencia will earn $1.675 million in 2015, instead of the $1.25 million the Blue Jays offered. Regardless of the outcome of the hearing, the MVP Sports client would have remained under club control for three seasons, through the 2017 campaign.

The Blue Jays now have one remaining arbitration case now that Valencia’s has been settled. Josh Donaldson, also a client of MVP Sports, has asked for $5.75 million with the team offering $4.3 million. Donaldson’s case will be heard before Feb. 20, but the date of his hearing has yet to be announced.

The Blue Jays are a file and trial team, which means they don’t negotiate one-year agreements after exchanging figures with players in January. The only way Toronto could avoid a hearing with Donaldson would be by reaching a multi-year agreement before his hearing.

Unresolved cases are argued in February before three-person panels selected for their expertise in labour relations, not for their baseball acumen. Each side presents a case and the panel issues a decision the following day.

Arbitration Eligible Players: Toronto Blue Jays

Player Years of control left 2014 salary 2015 salary
Marco Estrada 1 $3.325M $3.9M
Josh Donaldson 4 $500K $5.75M vs. $4.3M
Michael Saunders 2 $2.3M $2.875M
Brett Cecil 2 $1.3M $2.475M
Danny Valencia 3 $1.065M $1.675M

Valencia, 30, hit two home runs with a .636 OPS in 50 games for the Blue Jays in 2014. He has the ability to play both corner infield positions and a history of hitting left-handed pitching, so he projects as a backup infielder and occasional DH on Toronto’s 2015 roster.

Valencia becomes the first MLB player to win an arbitration hearing this offseason. Miami Marlins right-hander Mat Latos lost his hearing earlier in the week.

Toronto last went to trial with right-hander Bill Risley in 1997.

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