ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Backup catcher Caleb Joseph went to salary arbitration with the Baltimore Orioles after setting major league records for most at-bats and plate appearances in a season with no RBIs.
Joseph asked arbitrators Mark Burstein, Steven Wolf and Gary Kendellen for a raise from $523,500 to $1 million, and the Orioles argued during Wednesday’s hearing he should be paid $700,000. A decision is likely Thursday.
The 30-year-old Joseph was eligible for arbitration for the first time after hitting .174 last year with three doubles in 132 at-bats and 141 plate appearances. The previous highs for a player with no RBIs were set in 1971 by Chicago White Sox All-Star pitcher Wilbur Wood with 96 at-bats and 124 plate appearances, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
There were instances before RBIs became an official statistic in 1920 in which players with 100 or more at-bats failed to drive in a run, according to baseballreference.com: pitcher Oscar Jones of the 1904 Brooklyn Superbas (137 at-bats, 150 plate appearances), outfielder Gene Good of the NL’s 1906 Boston Beaneaters (119/135) and outfielder Bobby Messenger of the 1909 Chicago White Sox (112/130).
Joseph had 49 RBIs in 2015, the last when he hit a pair of run-scoring grounders against Kansas City on Sept. 11. His last run-scoring hit was an RBI single off Toronto’s David Price that Sept. 5.
Right-handers Kevin Gausman ($3.55 million vs. $3.15 million) and Brad Brach ($3.05 million vs. $2,525,000) remain scheduled for hearings, which run through Feb. 17. Baltimore said it would be a “file-and-trial” team, meaning that it would not settle after the exchange of figures on Jan. 13.
In the first two decisions of the year, outfielder Khris Davis defeated Oakland and pitcher Fernando Abad lost to Boston. Nineteen other players remain scheduled for hearings.
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