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The Rays Tank: Arbitration Deadline Looms, Four Still Unsigned

After weeks and weeks of breathless anticipation, the big day is finally here: today marks the deadline for clubs and players to exchange figures for arbitration! Are you excited yet? Woooo!*

J.P. Howell reached a pre-arb deal with the Rays last night, signing a one year, $1.35 million contract for 2012. This will be his final year of team control, so he'll be a free agent next offseason (for better or worse, I guess). But the big news is that the Rays still haven't reached an agreement with their four final arbitration-eligible players: Burke Badenhop, Jeff Niemann, B.J. Upton, and David Price.

The deadline is at 1 P.M. this afternoon, so we should expect to hear by then if the Rays have reached deals with any of these players. Under Andrew Friedman, the Rays have normally reached pre-arb deals with players if possible, only going to arbitration 12 times (and winning all 12 cases) four times under Friedman (winning every case). The Rays don't negotiate with players after this deadline, choosing to go to arbitration hearing instead as it makes this a hard-and-fast deadline to get deals completed.

For all those still hoping that Upton or Price will get signed to a long-term contract, it looks like this is the point of no return. After today, we'll know for sure whether the Rays are planning on merely reaching one-year deals with both players, or if they were working on something larger.

*This is what my life has become.