MILWAUKEE -- The Brewers are employing a file-and-trial strategy with unsigned pitcher Chase Anderson, meaning Anderson and his representatives expect to go all the way to an arbitration hearing to set the right-hander's salary for 2017, a source said.
All hearings are in Florida this year, and while the specifics of Anderson's are not public knowledge, it is expected to take place prior to Feb. 14, the date Brewers pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. With Anderson in attendance, a panel of judges will weigh oral and written arguments from both sides and choose to award Anderson the $2.85 million he is seeking, or the $2.45 million the Brewers offered.
It would be the Brewers' first arbitration hearing since they prevailed in reliever Jose Veras' case in 2012.
Brewers general manager David Stearns has not commented on the specifics of Anderson's case. Moreover, he has declined to publicize the Brewers' strategy for handling arbitration-eligible players who remain unsigned after the date teams and players formally exchange salary proposals through the MLB Players Association. Clubs employ different methods, and the Brewers have tried varying strategies over the past decade.
For much of former GM Doug Melvin's tenure, the Brewers continued negotiating with arbitration-eligible players after the exchange date, often settling at or near the midpoint of filing figures, sometimes literally on the doorstep of a hearing. But in the club's view, that process sometimes led to inflated salaries, because representatives could file an artificially high figure in an effort to drive up the midpoint.
So, near the end of Melvin's tenure, the Brewers went to "file and trial," telling players and their representatives that if the sides were unable to reach an agreement before the exchange date, the sides would cease negotiations and go straight to a hearing.
That is what Anderson has been told to expect, according to the source.
Since Stearns has declined comment on the matter, it remains unclear whether the Brewers are a file-and-trial club across the board, or whether they make that call on a case-by-case basis. The Royals and reliever Kelvin Herrera proved Friday that there is always room for an exception, agreeing to a deal at the midpoint, despite the fact Kansas City is a file-and-trial team.
Anderson was in Milwaukee on Sunday for Brewers On Deck, and he said there was no animosity in the talks between his agent, Kevin Hubbard, and the Brewers. Acquired in a trade with the D-backs, Anderson qualified for arbitration as a Super 2 player after going 9-11 with a 4.39 ERA in 151 2/3 innings in 2016.
"I'm excited about going to Spring Training and getting ready to go," Anderson said. "You feel the excitement of the fans. You've been working out for three months, throwing bullpens. I'm ready to go out there and put a uniform on again and get back with the guys."
Anderson is the Brewers' only remaining unsigned arbitration-eligible player.
Only twice since 1998 have the Brewers gone all the way to a hearing with a player. Corey Hart took his case to a panel of judges in Florida in 2010, and he won a $4.8 million salary. In '12, the Brewers won in the Veras hearing. The player still earned $2 million.
Overall, the Brewers have gone to the hearing room five times.
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.