Cincinnati Reds pitcher Homer Bailey and San Diego Padres left-hander Clayton Richard agreed to one-year contracts Saturday, making it all but certain there will be no salary arbitration hearings this year for the first time since the process began in 1974 — arbitration was suspended for 1976 and 1977 while free agency was put in place.
No cases have been argued before three-person panels after 133 players filed for arbitration last month. Only one remains scheduled for a hearing next week — and those sides already have a deal in place.
Relief pitcher Darren O'Day and the Baltimore Orioles have an agreement on a $5.8 million, two-year contract that is pending a physical. As long as that deal is completed, arbitration season is over.
Baseball's previous record low was three hearings, set in 2005 and matched in 2009 and 2011. The high was 35 in 1986, but teams and players have shied away from squaring off lately in part because the arguments often grew contentious.
Owners hold a 291-214 lead since arbitration began.
Bailey and the Reds agreed to a $5.35 million contract Saturday, while Richard and the Padres settled at $5.24 million.