Austin Hays won his arbitration hearing against the Orioles and will make $6.3 million this year, and the long-time Orioles outfielder sees Baltimore as his potential home for the rest of his career.
Francis Marquez, Hays’ agent at MAS+ Agency, told The Baltimore Banner that the hearing process went smoothly. At times, the hearings can prove contentious as a player’s representative and a front office argue for different values — in this case, $6.3 million versus $5.85 million. But the hearing was full of respect, Marquez said.
“It could’ve been something that would’ve derailed a lot of good faith that has been built, and it did not,” Marquez said. “Unabashedly, Austin is an Oriole, and he feels that he is young enough and he’s good enough to be a member of the Orioles for a long time, not just the time that he has in the arbitration system. So I think in an ideal world, 100%, Austin Hays would like to be a player who just wears an Orioles uniform during his career.”
Marquez added that at this point, negotiations for a possible extension haven’t occurred. Hays is still under team control through the end of the 2025 season.
Hays, in his second year of arbitration, receives a raise from $3.2 million a year ago. Of the team’s 17 arbitration-eligible players who were tendered a contract, Ryan O’Hearn is the only one who has not received a salary figure for 2024. Right-hander Jacob Webb also won his arbitration case and will earn $1 million in 2024, a second source told The Baltimore Banner. Arbitration hearings run through mid-February.
Hays, 28, had the best year of his major league career last year, making the All-Star game for the first time while hitting .275 with 16 home runs.
“There were Orioles front office personnel there [at the hearing],” Marquez said. “They actually spoke to Austin before the hearing, and actually said, ‘Hey, this isn’t personal, this is just a part of the process that we have to go through, and once we go through this, we move on and work together to make sure the next season is even better than 2023.’”
Hays debuted in 2017 for a brief 20-game stint but didn’t get brought back to the majors for another two years as injuries and poor performance kept him in the minors. He returned in 2019 and suffered through four rebuilding seasons with the Orioles, playing on two teams that lost more than 100 games.
Last year’s team won 101 games and made the playoffs for the first time since 2016. Hays was one of three players on the American League Division Series team that saw the team from start to end of the rebuild, joining just fellow outfielders Anthony Santander and Cedric Mullins.
Hays is a steady fixture in left field, spending all but 70 innings in that corner last season. He’s expected to regain that position again this year, with Mullins in center field and Santander in right.
The Orioles reached deals with eight players before the arbitration deadline in January. Four more agreed to contracts back in November. Although the team did not initially come to terms with relievers Danny Coulombe and Cionel Pérez at the deadline, the sides were able to work out a deal before going to a hearing.