Phillies bungle Alec Bohm's arbitration case, losing a squabble over $600K

Alec Bohm won his arbitration case and will earn $4 million this season, but was it worth it for the Phillies?

Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm lost his arbitration case on Thursday
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm lost his arbitration case on Thursday / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

The final act of the Alec Bohm-Philadelphia Phillies arbitration saga was put to rest on Friday, with the third baseman winning his case in a hearing in Arizona, as reported by The Athletic's Matt Gelb. Bohm and the Phillies will officially settle on the player's asking price of $4 million for the 2024 season. The team offered $3.4 million.

But the real question here is: was squabbling over $600 thousand worth it?

Apparently, the front office felt so, even though both sides came in well under MLB Trade Rumors' projected salary of $4.3 million. It's surprising the two sides couldn't come to an agreement before the hearing, somewhere in the middle, around $3.7 million.

No multi-year deal for Bohm

Bohm was the only arbitration-eligible Phillie that ended up going to a hearing, with Ranger Suárez, Jeff Hoffman, Edmundo Sosa, and Gregory Soto settling at the filing deadline on Jan. 12.

There had been speculation that the disagreement over Bohm's 2024 salary might lead to a multi-year deal, something president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld have done recently with bullpen pieces José Alvarado and Seranthony Domínguez.

Last offseason, after coming in apart on salary number filings, Alvarado signed a three-year, $22 million extension, and Domínguez inked a two-year, $7.25 million contract.

But alas, there's no multi-year deal for Bohm. So he and the front office will repeat the same song and dance again next winter.

Bohm has had his ups and downs as a Phillie

Going into his fifth MLB season, Bohm, a former first-round pick, has a .277 batting average over the last two seasons. He slugged .437 last year with a career-high 20 home runs and 97 RBI. He also registered a career-best strikeout rate of 15.4 percent. It has been a promising advancement since his 2021 campaign, in which he hit .247 with a .647 OPS and a 26.6 percent strikeout rate.

The Phillies probably pointed to his defense as cause for a lower salary. He has amassed -46 DRS over his four seasons, with -12 DRS between third and first base last year — which is still better than 2022's -17. His 2023 OAA (1) and RAA (1) at third were both better than in 2022, when he posted -9 OAA and -7 RAA.

The concern is that the arbitration hearings can cause bad blood or hard feelings between an organization and a player if the player doesn't like the case that the team lays out. The most recent well-publicized example was the Corbin Burnes-Milwaukee Brewers fiasco in 2023. The Toronto Blue Jays and Marcus Stroman also had a falling out after a particularly ugly hearing in 2018.

There's not necessarily a problem, especially since he won, but Bohm hasn't always had a smooth ride as a Phillie. He had his infamous "I f---ing hate this place" incident after feeling the brunt of Philadelphia fans' jeers during an error-filled effort in early 2022.

It's all water under the bridge now. But it makes you wonder how the front office really views the player, and if they're just biding their time until top prospect Aiden Miller is ready.