With the regular season over and the Milwaukee Brewers not partaking in the magic that is October, it may seem that there is nothing to do until pitchers and catchers report.
That would, of course, be wrong. The baseball season never stops, and that means interesting news never stops. Today, the Milwaukee Brewers announced that nine players will be entering arbitration before the 2013 season begins.
With this in mind, we humbly present you with the Show Me the Money! series – where we examine the cases for and against those who are set to plead those cases in arbitration cases. This being the first installment of the series, we will take a wide view of all the candidates and break down the arbitration system as it sits in baseball today.
What is Arbitration?
Arbitration is a process in which two parties (in this case – a player and his representative and representatives from said player’s organization) try to settle a disagreement (in this case – loads of money).
The process took root in 1974 with the death of the long-time standard “reserve clause” that allowed baseball’s owners to essentially hold players hostage with teams. With the advent of free agency, baseball owners felt the need to retain leverage over the players – and hopefully at some point end the silly fad of free agency.
That didn’t happen, obviously. But the system has been refined slightly. Here’s how it works now:
- To be arbitration eligible, a player must have at least three years of Major League service, but no more than six
- Any player classified as a “Super Two” (any player with a minimum of 86 days service time in the Majors in the previous seasonand in the top 22 percent of cumulative playing time in his class of players under three years total service) may file for arbitration before the third season
- To be arbitration eligible, a player must not be under long-term contract (obviously) and must have been tendered a contract offer by the December deadline
- During the arbitration process, the player and the team each submit offers they deem fair to a panel of three arbitrators – the arbitration board is tasked with picking the offer that is “the most realistic” based upon the market of the player’s talent and position
The numbers can seem confusing, and Super Two can make everything seem more muddled. Just focus on the three to six year range, and you have just about everything you need to know in terms of how the process is set. Also remember that the player must have been offered a contract (hence the need to discuss it). If the player is not offered a contract, he would not go through arbitration but instead be deemed a “non-tender free agent.”
The arbitration board settles, according to the MLB Players Association, less than 10 percent of all salary disputes – the threat of arbitration itself seems to be enough to drive offers in the right direction before convening the panel. It also ensures some impartiality in the discussion as arbitrators are picked from outside of the institution of baseball. And the system kind of works out for everybody: teams have won a slightly higher amount of arbitration cases than players, but the players salaries increase exorbitantly in the process. So call it a moral victory for the check signers, but far from the substantial leverage they had originally hoped with the system.
Milwaukee’s 2012 Arbitration Class
As stated earlier, the Milwaukee Brewers have nine players eligible for arbitration coming into the 2013 season.
The following players are eligible for arbitration for the first time, followed by the contracts they recieved in the previous season:
John Axford, RHP ($525,000)
Chris Narveson, LHP ($500,000)
Marco Estrada, RHP ($486,000)
Travis Ishikawa, 1B ($525,000)
Nyjer Morgan, the Brewers utility outfielder, is the only second-time eligible player, and he raked in $2.35 million in 2012.
The following Brewers are third-time eligible players in the arbitration process:
Kameron Loe, RHP ($2.17 million)
Jose Veras, RHP ($2 million)
Manny Parra, LHP ($1.2 million)
Carlos Gomez wraps up the group as Milwaukee’s only fourth-time eligible candidate for arbitration. The center fielder (represented by Scott Boras, in case you were wondering) earned $1.7 million for his services in 2012.
It will be months until the hearings are actually scheduled, and last season only seven of the nearly 150 players who filed for arbitration had to have their cases heard. The chances of Milwaukee sending even one of these players to an actual hearing is slim to none. Regardless of that fact, every day from this day forward we will present the following players cases, as well as their team’s cases, to you as realistically as we can manage.