The Marlins won their arbitration hearing against catcher Jacob Stallings, as first reported by the Associated Press. That sets his 2022 salary at the $2.45MM figure submitted by the team rather than at the $3.1MM that Stallings and his representatives.
Acquired in an offseason trade that sent righty Zach Thompson and prospects Kyle Nicolas and Connor Scott to the Pirates, Stallings has had a rough start to his Marlins tenure. The 2021 Gold Glover has always been known more for his defensive prowess than his bat, but this year’s .204/.276/.268 showing through 174 trips to the plate has nevertheless been a disappointment. Over his final three seasons with the Bucs, Stallings posted a .251/.331/.374 batting line that clocked in about about 9-10% worse than the league-average hitter (by measure of wRC+ and OPS+) but was slightly better than that of the average catcher.
More concerning for the Fish, however, is the downturn in Stallings’ vaunted defensive skills. This year’s 17% caught-stealing rate is the worst of his big league career, and Stallings has also turned in below-average marks in pitch framing — an area where he’s previously ranked among the game’s very best. Stallings has been a bit better at the dish since a brutal start to the year, hitting .223/.303/.300 over his past 100 trips to the plate, but even that’s a notable departure from his typical output in Pittsburgh.
Of course, Stallings’ struggles to this point weren’t a factor in his arbitration hearing. Arbitration hearings, even those taking place during the ongoing season due to this winter’s lockout, are determined based solely on prior performance. Hearings such as this would’ve typically taken place in February, after all.
With Stallings’ 2022 salary now set, that’ll be the baseline for subsequent arbitration raises moving forward. This is his second trip through arbitration as a Super Two player, and he’ll remain under Marlins control through the 2024 season. That leaves two more trips through the arb process, though Stallings will likely need to improve his play on both sides of the ball if he’s to remain a prominent part of the team’s plans.
Wrapping up Stallings’ case finally brings the Marlins’ arbitration dealings to a close. Miami avoided a hearing with everyone other than Stallings and righty Pablo Lopez, both of whom the team defeated in arb hearings. The Fish also notably sidestepped a hearing with southpaw Richard Bleier when they agreed to a two-year deal in late March.
At this point, Braves lefty Max Fried and Yankees slugger Aaron Judge are the only two players in Major League Baseball with yet-to-be-resolved arbitration cases. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that Fried’s hearing took place yesterday, so a ruling could be made as soon as today. Judge’s hearing is set for Friday, per Heyman.