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If an agreement can't be reached by February, the case will be brought before a three-person arbitration panel. Each side will present its case, with the panel picking either the salary the player requested or the one the team offered.
Regardless what occurs during the process, Arenado, LeMahieu and Blackmon -- all in their first year of arbitration-eligibility -- are under the Rockies' control, and the only way they won't be with the club in 2016 is if they're traded. Blackmon's name has arisen in trade rumors, since the club is looking to deal from its surplus of left-handed-hitting outfielders to improve its pitching.
Often the one-year arbitration figures are used to produce a multiyear deal. Although it isn't clear if any of the three Rockies will sign one.
Arenado, who turns 25 on April 16, is coming off a year during which he appeared in his first All-Star Game, earned his third straight Gold Glove Award, took The Fielding Bible and Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Awards and tied the Nationals' Bryce Harper for the National League lead in homers with 42. Arenado has been identified in some circles as the future face of the Rockies, which could mean the team would want to sign him to a multiyear deal.
The sides have time on their side. Arenado, eligible for arbitration due to his status as a Super Two player, is under the Rockies' control for four seasons and is not eligible for free agency until 2020. Much speculation surrounds the fact that Arenado has switched representation from Scott Boras, one of the game's most influential agents, to Joel Wolfe and Nick Chanock of the Wasserman Media Group.
Some have wondered if leaving Boras, who has engineered several of baseball's biggest free-agent contracts, makes it more likely Arenado will be with the Rockies long term. But Arenado said recently that changing agents was "best for me and my family," and Rockies officials have said the identity of the agent has no bearing. After all, under Boras' representation, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez signed a seven-year, $80 million deal with the Rockies that took up some years of free agency. Gonzalez has two years remaining on his deal. Wolfe is the agent who negotiated Giancarlo Stanton's record 13-year, $325 million deal with the Marlins last winter.
MLBTradeRumors.com projects Arenado to earn $6.6 million for 2016 through arbitration. It projects Blackmon, an All-Star in '14, at $4.5 million and LeMahieu, an All-Star in '15, at $3.7 million.
The Rockies avoided arbitration with righty relief pitcher Adam Ottavino by reaching a three-year, $10.4 million deal. The club also avoided arbitration by signing one-year deals with right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles ($2.975 million) and outfielder Brandon Barnes ($1 million, with $100,000 available in performance bonuses).
The club parted ways with four other players who would have been eligible for arbitration -- catcher Michael McKenry, who has signed a Minor League deal with the Rangers; righty reliever John Axford, who signed with the Athletics for two years, $10 million; lefty reliever Rex Brothers, who was traded to the Cubs; and catcher-first baseman Wilin Rosario, who is unsigned.