When the news finally broke Thursday night that Alec Bohm and the Philadelphia Phillies weren't able to agree to terms on a 2024 salary, the question became how far apart the two sides were in talks. Was this a case of a player and his agent immensely overvaluing the player compared to what the team believes he's worth?
Would the two sides end up far apart, or would they be relatively close but disagree enough to be unable to bridge a small gap?
It was the latter, as it turns out. The Phillies and their third baseman couldn't find common ground between their numbers, which ended up fairly close in the grand scheme of things.
Per MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Bohm's camp is asking for $4 million, while the Phillies filed at $3.4 million.
That's a difference of $600 thousand. Not the smallest gap from arbitration deadline day, and not the biggest either, not by a long shot. Interestingly, both sides came in under MLB Trade Rumors' projection for Bohm's arbitration value of $4.3 million.
Will the Phillies and Bohm make it to an arbitration hearing?
The Phillies aren't necessarily known as a "file-and-trial" team and, in the past, have been willing to continue working with players to avoid arbitration hearings. It's an approach that's best for all involved, as salary arbitration hearings can ruffle feathers.
While we don't know the inner workings of the talks up to this point, there's a good chance, based on this front office's history, that they won't end up sitting in front of the panel of arbitrators. There's even a good chance that Bohm signs a multi-year deal before it's all said and done.
The team went to arbitration with Realmuto in 2020, but that was before president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski's time — he came on board later that year.
More recently, Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld avoided arbitration hearings last offseason with relievers José Alvarado and Seranthony Domínguez, even after they couldn't agree on numbers at the deadline.
Alvarado filed at $3.7 million, while the Phillies countered with $3.2 million. A few weeks later, the two sides met in the middle, agreeing on a one-year, $3.45 million deal. And a few days after that, the big lefty agreed to a three-year, $22 million extension. So things can turn in a hurry.
Domínguez also signed a multi-year deal. After filing at $2.9 million, with the team coming back at $2.1 million, they both agreed to a two-year, $7.25 million contract.
A multi-year extension for Bohm could be a possibility
If the Phillies feel that Bohm is their third baseman of the foreseeable future, they might offer the 27-year-old a three-year deal to buy out the remainder of his arbitration years and provide some cost certainty through their current contention window.
Does the team believe in Bohm enough to ink him to a multi-year deal?
The former first-round, third-overall pick has shown he can handle the bat in the majors, with a .277 batting average over the last two seasons. He put up a .437 slugging percentage last year on his way to career-highs with 20 home runs and 97 RBI.
Last season, Bohm posted a career-best strikeout rate of 15.4 percent. He also improved his batted ball profile with a career-low ground ball rate of 42.3 percent and career-highs in his line drive (23.8 percent) and fly ball (33.8 percent) rates. It has been an encouraging progression for Bohm, who had a tough 2021 following his debut in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
A multi-year deal for Bohm will also help the team bridge the gap until their next third baseman is ready for The Show. With Aidan Miller, their top pick in last year's draft, still just 19 years old and with only 20 professional games under his belt, the front office needs to buy some time.
Despite Bohm's questionable defense, he's their best option at the hot corner until Miller matures. With a roster full of aging stars on big contracts, securing Bohm with cost certainty is the smart move.