Harmony reigns as Guardians avoid arbitration for fifth straight year

Jan. 14—The Guardians finished 92-70 and won the AL Central Division in 2022 after finishing 80-82 and missing the playoffs in 2021. That meant key players to the 12-game turnaround eligible for arbitration were due for substantial salary increases.

Seven Guardians players were eligible for arbitration in the current offseason and, according to Spotract.com, management reached a one-year agreement with each of them before the Jan. 13 deadline. All seven got raises in various degrees.

It is always better when the two sides can reach an agreement before an arbitrator gets involved because the player is bound to feel resentment if he loses in arbitration. The Indians/Guardians and their players have avoided each year since 2019.

Here, according to the numbers from Sportrac.com, are the contracts for the seven players. The first number is their 2023 salary. The second number is what each player was paid in 2022. The number in parenthesis is how many years of arbitration each player has remaining.

Pitcher Shane Bieber — $10.1 million/ $6 million (1); pitcher Zach Plesac — $2.95 million/ $2 million (2); pitcher Aaron Civale — $2.6 million/ $716,000 (2); pitcher Cal Quantrill — $5.5 million/ $2.51 million (2); shortstop Amed Rosario — $7.8 million/ $4.95 million (0); first baseman Josh Naylor — $3.35 million/ $1.2 million (2) and reliever James Karinchak — $1.5 million/ $714,500 (3).

The Guardians might be forced to trade Bieber next winter the same way they traded Francisco Lindor in January 2021. They could not afford to sign Lindor to a long-term deal, so they traded him to the Mets along with pitcher Carlos Carrasco for Rosario, second baseman Andres Gimenez, minor league pitcher Josh Wolf and minor league outfielder Isaiah Greene.

During spring training last year, Bieber, 27, said he is open to signing a long-term contract with the Guardians. It should be noted Lindor said the same thing several times. The Indians could not afford Lindor's asking price. Only time will tell if the Guardians can satisfy Bieber.

"I love the organization," Bieber told reporters in Goodyear, Ariz., last March. "I love the people, love the relationships, and am always open to discussing something and figuring something out."

Bieber is 54-26 in five seasons with the Guardians. He was 13-8 with a 2.88 ERA last season. He pitched exactly 200 innings and struck out 198 batters. In 2020, when he won the Cy Young Award in the COVID-shortened 60-game season, he was 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA and struck out 122 batters in 77 1/3 innings.