January 21, 2008

Arbitration for Dummies

Major League Baseball salary arbitration is not fun. In essence, every arbitration case can be reduced to these four phases:

Phase I - Player X submits wildly unrealistic salary demand, sometimes double or triple previous year's league minimum salary. Team counters by submitting copy of previous year's W-2, with an increased indexed to the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.

Phase II - Team attempts to cast Player X's achievements as A) a fluke, B) a statistical outlier, C) a prelude to his total collapse or D) all of the above. Team proceeds to further minimize Player X's value by listing, in detail, all of the negative aspects of his season. "Sure, he hit 25 home runs but that's more than offset by the four times he got thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double."

Phase III - Player X's agent sets out to demonstrate that Team is helmed by a degenerate collection of slack-jawed misanthropes who not only A) have not utilized any metric of player evaluation more sophisticated than batting average, but B) cannot count to ten if spotted eight fingers and two thumbs and C) failed to correctly identify Player X in a photo array.

Phase IV - Designated Arbitrator, ideally but not necessarily more knowledgable about professional baseball than your average Member of Congress weighs the utterly conflicting evidence before deciding that Player X is either A) the second coming of Joe DiMaggio or B) Felipe Lopez. Salary is awarded accordingly and Player X comes away convinced that Team does not appreciate his service, will never voluntarily pay him what he's worth and may in fact have been having him followed for the past six months.

That, in a nutshell, is why it's a good idea to avoid arbitration with players you don't want hating their team. With that in mind, I've come up with a simple 2-step plan for resolving the Nationals two outstanding arbitration cases. As it happens, the Nats are offering $300,000 less than the salaries being requested by both setup Wookiee Jon Rauch and infield placeholder Felipe Lopez. In the interest of resolving both cases amicably, I propose the following solution:

  1. Take the $300,000 that FLop wants;
  2. Give it to Jon Rauch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm the producer of the Nationals pre-game and post-game show for MASN. As we get ready for this season and the Nationals, I was hoping to get in touch with you (and a number of other bloggers) about this season. What I am hoping to do is create a short, recurring segment on our show (w/ Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight) about what bloggers are writing about concerning the Nationals. What I am looking for now is a database of blog sites we can feature on the show...

For example:

"On today's Nationals Blog Beat, xxx from Nats Triple Play writes 'Austin Kearns has been playing great'..."

Is this something you would be interested in?

Any further ideas you have could work as well...

Matt Perl