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February 03, 2017

Phils ink Hernandez to new deal, avoiding arbitration

The Phillies and Cesar Hernandez agreed to terms on a contract for the 2017 season on Friday, avoiding arbitration exactly three weeks after the two sides exchanged filing numbers and at least a couple of weeks before an arbitration hearing would have taken place.

Hernandez, who was in his first year of arbitration eligibility, will make $2.55 million this season. It’s a nice bump from his 2016 salary of $525,000.

While agreeing to one-year deals with Freddy Galvis and Jeanmar Gomez three weeks ago, the deadline for teams to reach deals with arbitration-eligible before filing numbers, the Phillies and Hernandez did exchange numbers. The 26-year-old Hernandez filed for $2.8 million while the Phillies filed $2 million.

Rather than meet exactly in the middle to avoid a hearing, the Phillies moved closer to Hernandez’s number to get a deal done on Friday. Hernandez, in his first full season as the team’s everyday second baseman, had a team-best .294 average and .371 OBP in 2016 and was tied for the major league-lead with 11 triples.

Hernandez’s scheduled hearing wasn’t set to take place until the Phillies are in Florida later this month (pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13). The Phillies haven’t had to go to an arbitration hearing with a player since they did with Ryan Howard in February of 2008. With Hernandez’s deal done, they won’t be breaking that streak this winter.

Since Hernandez is now earmarked for $2.55 million in 2017, the Phillies Opening Day payroll is likely to be just under $115 million. They currently have 11 players signed for just under $103 million (which also includes a buyout to Howard, among others) and still have to sign off on contracts with the rest of the players on the roster who aren’t yet eligible for arbitration (a long list that includes the likes of Cameron Rupp, and most of the young pitchers on the roster, like Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez).

The Phils’ Opening Day payroll last year was just $101.9 million after being among the sports' top spenders for the better part of the last decade ($135.8 million in 2015, 9th in MLB; 188 million in 2014, 3rd; $165 million in 2013, 3rd; $184 million in 2012, 2nd).

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