Utilityman Nick Gordon has lost his arbitration hearing against the Twins, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. He’ll receive a $900K salary in 2024 after filing at $1.25MM. MLBTR Contributor Matt Swartz projected Gordon for a $1MM salary in arbitration this winter, though arbiters have to pick between the numbers filed by player and team and cannot choose a midpoint figure.
Gordon, 28, qualified for arbitration for the first time in his career this offseason as a Super Two player. The top 22% of players with between two and three years of service time are given Super Two status, which grants them an additional year of arbitration eligibility. The 28-year-old’s first trip through arbitration this winter comes on the heels of a lost season in 2023 where Gordon did not appear in the majors after May 17 due to a fractured shin he sustained after fouling a ball off his leg during that day’s game against the Dodgers. Gordon struggled to a .176/.185/.319 slash line during his 34-game stint with the club last season, though he had begun to heat up somewhat with an .805 OPS and six extra base hits in his previous 15 games entering the day of the injury.
The lost season in 2023 belies the breakout season Gordon enjoyed in 2022. After being selected fifth overall in the 2014 draft, Gordon was a mainstay on top prospect lists for several years but stalled out at the Triple-A level in 2018, where he’d remain until getting his first crack at a major league role in 2021. While Gordon’s numbers in a bench role that season were hardly eye-opening, he nonetheless entered the 2022 campaign as a member of the club’s Opening Day roster. Gordon opened the season as a part-time player who mainly played left and center field, but eventually grew into more of a regular role with the club after slashing .302/.348/.535 across a 31-game stretch from late May until early July.
After that hot stretch, Gordon fell back to Earth a bit as he slashed a decent .266/.315/.425 the rest of the way. Those solid numbers coincided with a noticeable bump in playing time; while Gordon started just 55 of the club’s 94 contests prior to the All Star break, he drew 58 starts across the 69 regular season games the club played following the break. Altogether, Gordon stepped to the plate 443 times in 2022 while appearing at every position on the diamond except for first base and catcher. In doing so, the switch-hitter slashed a respectable .272/.316/.427 that was good for a 111 wRC+.
Turning back to the coming campaign, the Twins will enjoy some short-term savings on Gordon’s 2024 salary, while the utilityman will face somewhat reduced earning power in future trips through arbitration due to the lower starting point being used as a base for raises in future trips through arbitration, which he is slated to go through three more times before he’s schedule to hit free agency following the 2027 season. Updates on Gordon’s health were relatively few and far between throughout the 2023 campaign after he was placed on the 60-day injured list back in May, but he figures to be ready for Spring Training and enter the season on the club’s bench alongside the likes of Kyle Farmer and Willi Castro.
Gordon’s hearing was the only one scheduled for the Twins this winter, though six more cases are slated to be heard around the league next week. Of course, some of the players and clubs remaining could agree to a deal to avoid a hearing entirely, as Adolis Garcia and Jonathan India did earlier this week with the Rangers and Reds, respectively. While most clubs operate under a “file and trial” system where they don’t hold contract discussions after last month’s deadline to file salary figures for the 2024 campaign, that moratorium on negotiations typically doesn’t apply to multi-year deals like the two-year pacts India and Garcia both signed. Players have enjoyed some considerable collective success to this point in the process, winning seven of the ten hearings that have taken place to this point.