In the MLB, a franchise controls any given player for their first six full seasons (defined as 172 or more days on the 25 man roster) of major league service time before qualifying for free agency. A player can be paid at the league minimum, roughly $508,000 in 2015, for their first three seasons. After that, players qualify for arbitration for the next three seasons, where they can exchange salary figures with their clubs and negotiate their final pay. If the player and club cannot agree on a salary, then each side files their desired salary and presents their case to an arbitration panel. Cases are generally predicated on the "baseball card" statistics that we don't use much anymore for analyzing players, but things like home runs and runs batted in, and pitcher wins and saves can skew a player's salary higher. After hearing both sides, the panel decides what the player's salary will be for that season.
An exception to this rule is if a player qualifies for "Super Two" status. This is achieved by players with between two and three years of service time who rank in the top 22% of service time among their class. According to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, this year's Super Two cutoff is at 2 years and 130 days of service, written as 2.130.
With these guidelines in mind, our own Milwaukee Brewers have just a short list of arbitration eligible players. Cesar Jimenez (3.083) was a Super Two player last season with Philadelphia, Jean Segura (3.065),and Wily Peralta (3.033) qualified based on reaching their third year of service time, while Will Smith (2.155) has achieved Super Two status this winter.
Of these four, only Jimenez stands out as a non-tender candidate, which means the Brewers can refuse to offer him arbitration and instead allow him to become a free agent. The Brewers claimed the 30 year old lefty off waivers in August, and he pitched 19.2 innings out of the bullpen down the stretch with a 3.66 ERA and 3.54 FIP. He struck out 21 hitters and induced a 51.9% ground ball rate during his time with Milwaukee. He started his tenure with eight straight scoreless appearances, but then allowed eight runs in 10.1 innings from Sept 12th onward. With the presence of Smith and younger lefties like Mike Strong and Josh Hader close to the big leagues, GM David Stearns may decide that Jimenez isn't worth his projected $1.0 mil salary.
After his tremendous rookie year, Jean Segura turned down a six year, $38 mil extension that would've paid him an average annual value of $6.33 mil per season through 2019. Since then Segura's stock has fallen significantly, as he has yet to prove that he can effectively handle major league pitching consistently. Through his first three seasons, Segura owns a .266/.301/.360 batting line with 23 home runs, 144 RBI, and 96 stolen bases. Most of Segura's value is now based on his defense and baserunning, but those aren't traits that get a player paid in arbitration. He's still projected to receive the club's biggest raise, though only to a modest $3.2 mil salary.
If Wily Peralta could've continued his solid work from 2014 into this year then he would've likely been in line for a sizable raise. Instead he took significant steps back in terms of ERA, wins, strikeouts, and innings pitched in 2015. Still, 35 wins and a 4.02 ERA in a little over three seasons should net Peralta a nice chunk of change in his first go-around in arbitration, and he's projected to receive $2.8 mil.
Since coming to the Brewers prior to the 2014 season, Will Smith ranks second among MLB relievers with 154 appearances, eighth with 12.35 K/9, and tied for 24th with 2.1 fWAR. Unfortunately, a tough rookie season in Kansas City where they tried employing him as a starter drags down his career counting stats. Relievers generally don't get paid very highly through arbitration unless they are closers, and his platform of 16 wins, one save, and a 3.96 ERA in 189 games unfortunately doesn't accurately reflect Smith's dominance or his importance in Milwaukee's bullpen. He's projected to receive $1.2 mil in his first of four seasons of arbitration eligibility.
If all of the Brewers arb-eligible players are tendered contracts (and aren't traded), they will earn a combined $8.2 mil or so based on their salary projections. This would represent roughly a $6 mil increase over paying these four the league minimum salary. This is a rather modest sum in comparison to the rest of the league; for example, eight clubs have 10 or more players eligible for arbitration this winter.
The deadline for players and clubs to file their arbitration figures this winter is January 12th. Figures can begin being exchanged on January 15th. Any arbitration hearings necessary will take place between February 1st-21st.