Welcome to part four of our ten part Milwaukee Brewers arbitration series. Without further ado, let us proceed to the next case on the docket.
Today onShow Me the Money!we take a look at Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Chris Narveson, a 30 year-old lefty reaching arbitration for the first time. Narvy was unable to pitch most of 2012 due to a season-ending injury, but he is progressing nicely in his rehab and should be more than ready to throw again come spring training.
Narveson was drafted in 2000 by the St. Louis Cardinals (we won’t hold that against him), traded to Colorado in 2004, traded to Boston by Colorado in 2005, picked up off waivers by St. Louis in the same year and pitched in his first big league game in 2006. In 2007, he was granted free agency and signed with Milwaukee, where he has been ever since.
The Case for Chris Narveson
2012 salary: $500,000
Estimated Salary: $800,000
Chris Narveson, first and foremost, has been an under-appreciated member of this ball club since he came onto the scene in 2007. To wit, here is a list of pitchers past and present who have similar service time, an equal or higher ERA (4.67), and a lower win-loss percentage (.591) who are making substantially more money than our client: Rich Hill, Armando Gallaraga, Mark Hendrickson, and Damian Moss.
He even has comparable stats to teammate Marco Estrada, who is also looking to achieve a pay raise in Milwaukee this season. Estrada gets paid roughly the same that Narveson is getting paid – and doesn’t have the wins, the strikeouts, or the experience that Narveson does. And he’s asking for more money.
Nobody here is asking for an extravagant amount of money. We are barely asking for a raise. Just for compensation that comes from having back-to-back years of double-digit wins and being a dependable and reliable pitcher in the bottom of a rotation. There’s not a lot of discussion to be had here – Chris Narveson is a dependable pitcher with a lot of career left, a pitcher with a history of being dependable and talented. He is a leader in the clubhouse and he is dedicated to being a big part of this organization going forward. He is not looking for an unbelievable pay raise. He just wants to be paid adequately for a position on the team that he has earned through his play.
The Case for the Milwaukee Brewers
While there are many reasons why we would like to continue our relationship with Chris Narveson, his
asking salary is too high for one condition: durability.
Narveson has suffered repeated injuries to his shoulder and an unfortunate off-field incident with his hand in 2011 has put roadblocks on what we believe to be a productive career moving forward. Unfortunately, we are not in the business of paying people for ‘what might have been’, we need to be proactive and rational when it comes to our payroll, as we have many important pieces that need to be comfortable on this team as well. And shelling out more money to a player who cannot project a full season, or a workload we and the coaches would like to see from him is not a good practice for running a baseball team.
While it is certainly true that there are other players who have similar numbers to Narveson that are getting paid more, none of them are substantially higher to the price we offered – and he accepted – last season. There is little reason to assume – if we are to look at those other players mentioned earlier – that giving Narveson more money would equate to better numbers on the field. In fact, quite the opposite seems to be the case.
If you take into account the amount of time Narveson has played along with his numbers, there is little if any evidence to suggest that Chris Narveson would become a top-level pitcher. That is not why we signed him, and that is not at all what we would like to project or impose on him. We signed him to be a dependable pitcher who gives Milwaukee a chance to win when he comes out on to the mound. He has done that for us, and we have paid him fairly for that. We would like that relationship to continue, but at a rate that is fair for both parties in the scope of his career.
Of all the players on the Brewers roster that are eligible for arbitration, Chris Narveson may be the one player who would have a shot at winning. Partly because of his performances during the 2010-2011 seasons, and also because he simply isn’t expecting that much money.
That being said, however, remember that only roughly 10% of ALL arbitration-eligible players fail to settle before a hearing. Also, while we took the logical (albeit completely hypothetical) extreme of the case – as we have with everybody – Narveson’s estimated asking price is barely a drop in the bucket for a pitcher that the team by all rights could use in the near future.
Chris Narveson’s injury, and the reported search for veteran pitching to join the Brewers clubhouse, may hamper negotiations for some time, but as soon as the team is satisfied with his recovery expect a deal to be done at a reasonable price for everyone. Which is to say, closer to Narveson’s price.