Just over a month after the Kansas City Royals lost an arbitration case to outfielder Andrew Benintendi that saw him net $8.5 million in salary, the team came out on the other end of the spectrum on Friday.
Per ESPN and the Associated Press, Kansas City has won its case against infielder Nicky Lopez.
Lopez, who experienced a breakout last season by slashing .300/.365/.378 with a 104 OPS+ and one of the better defensive seasons among all shortstops in baseball, will make $2.55M instead of the $2.9M he argued for through salary arbitration. The report adds that MLB clubs are now 8-3 in arbitration cases with three additional ones that have yet to be resolved.
This season has not been kind to Lopez, as his batting average is all the way down to .214 and his OPS is a career-worst .538. Nothing has been going right for him, as even his Outs Above Average has fallen down to the 41st percentile on defense. His production at the plate and in the field has been diminished.
In a year that was supposed to see the 27-year-old cement himself as a cornerstone for the Royals to build around moving forward, it's instead brought his long-term role with the club into serious question. With that said, nothing after March 1 of this year was eligible to be used in the arbitration case. Once MLB and the MLBPA ended their lockout, this conclusion was reached.
Back in late March, Kansas City came to agreements with infielder Adalberto Mondesi ($3M), infielder Ryan O'Hearn ($1.3M), catcher Cam Gallagher ($885,000) and pitchers Brad Keller ($4.825M), Scott Barlow ($2.4M) and Amir Garrett ($2.025M). The club also agreed to terms with multiple pre-arbitration eligible players.
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