ATLANTA — Third baseman Austin Riley became the first of four members of the World Series champion Atlanta Braves to go to a salary arbitration hearing, asking for $4.25 million rather than the team’s $3.95 million offer.
Arbitrators Richard Bloch, Steven Wolf and John Woods heard the case virtually on Tuesday. A decision is expected Wednesday, along with the case of St. Louis outfielder Tyler O’Neill, which was heard last Friday by a different panel.
“It was interesting. We’ll see how it goes,” Riley said before the Braves played Boston.
Riley set career bests last season with a .303 average, 33 homers and 107 RBI. He played in 160 games, tying Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson for the NL lead.
Riley had a $590,500 salary last year and was eligible for arbitration for the first time. He is hitting .243 with seven homers and 14 RBI in 29 games this season. No statistics or evidence from after March 1 are admissible other than contract and salary comparisons, timing set when Major League Baseball and the players’ association agreed to the deal that ended the lockout.
Sixteen additional players remain eligible for arbitration, with hearings scheduled through June 24. Players scheduled for hearings include Atlanta outfielder Adam Duvall, pitcher Max Fried and Swanson, along with New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, New York Mets pitcher Chris Bassitt, Kansas City outfielder Andrew Benintendi, Minnesota catcher Gary Sánchez and Philadelphia pitcher Zach Eflin.
O’Neill, a two-time Gold Glove-winning outfielder, asked arbitrators Mark Burstein, Brian Keller and John Stout to award him $4.15 million rather than the Cardinals’ $3.4 million offer.
O’Neill set career bests last year with a .286 average, 34 homers and 80 RBI, finishing eighth in NL MVP voting. He is hitting .213 with two homers and 19 RBI this season. In his fifth major league season, O’Neill has a .256 average with 57 homers and 157 RBI.
He made $604,700 last year and was eligible for arbitration for the first time.
Arbitration hearings usually are held during the first three weeks of February, but were delayed by the lockout.