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January 14, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Some Salary Arbitration Cases to Watch

by Maury Brown

It’s the start of the New Year, and with it, here comes MLB salary arbitration. The MLBPA has released the list of 142 players, and with it, between now and mid-Feb. every one of them will have their contracts in hand before or shortly after Spring Training starts.

(See the complete listing, along with 2011 Major League Service Time, team, position, and how many years they’ve been in the process)

A few players stand out (as they do each year). Here’s are some quick snapshots:

  • Jacoby Ellsbury – Second in AL MVP voting, this will be Ellsbury’s second time through salary arb. On Jan. 18 of last year, Ellsbury avoided arb with a $2.4 million deal that had incentives that paid him an additional $50,000 for having 600 plate appearances. That salary increase was up 383% from his $497,000 he got in the last season of club control in 2009. It sounds like a lot, but really, it wasn’t. Jacoby was injured through most of 2010 and had career lows in nearly every statistical category. Expect a hefty payday for Ellsbury this time around. If not a multi-year deal, something close to $8 million for a one-year deal is not out of the realm of possibility. He ranked fourth in the league by BVORP (69.2) and third by BWARP (8.6). The big question is, was 2011 it a career spike? Given smashed many of his former career highs (119 R in 2011 compared to 98 R in 2009; 212 H compared to 188 H in 2009; 32 HR compared to 9 in 2008, and; 69.2 VORP compared to 32.9 VORP in 2009) and it’s possible.
  • Clayton Kershaw – This is one to watch exceptionally close and ties closely to another player entering arb (again), Tim Lincecum. Kershaw enters as a Super Two, just as Lincecum did.. Kershaw does so after winning the NL Cy Young. Ditto for Lincecum in 2010. Here’s what’s to watch… Where the Giants gave Lincecum a 2-year, $23 million deal, something that some analysts thought thwarted a large increase through salary arb, the Dodgers, stuck in bankruptcy till likely April, might not be able to do. On the other hand, if the Dodgers can get Kershaw to bite on a back-loaded deal, it places salary in the hands of new owners when the club is sold. Either way, watch this one very closely.
  • Tim Lincecum – Speaking of Lincecum, it’s likely that the logic employed by Tim and his agent Dan Lozano was, the 2-yr deal in 2010 gets solid guaranteed money, and another 2 stabs at salary arb after if yet another extension isn’t reached. Lincecum in 2011 wasn’t Lincecum in 2010, but he’s still got solid numbers and draws at the gate, something that works as an intangible.
  • David Price – Price was 14th in the league in quality starts last year, ranked 9th in Ks. His WARP was nearly flat compared from 2010 (3.2 in ’10 compared to 3.4 in ’11). Price is entering salary arb for the first time. He’s going to be in the last year of his signing bonus money ($1.5 million), but is a candidate to move maybe into the $5 million to $6 million range through the arb process.

Maury Brown is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Maury's other articles. You can contact Maury by clicking here

Related Content:  Salary Arbitration

9 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Anybody at home here at BP on the weekend to blog about the Montero - Pineda trade?

Jan 15, 2012 07:12 AM
rating: 0

One million percent agreed. A one-paragraph unfiltered with "first thoughts on the trade" would suffice.

Jan 15, 2012 10:33 AM
rating: -1


Because of the above fiasco when they were trying for instant analysis, they decided to opt for better, more complete, even if a little bit later analysis in the future.

In my opinion, it was a good decision...there are dozens of other sites with instant write ups. I can wait for BPs insight that I'm sure will be up tomorrow morning.

Jan 15, 2012 10:10 AM
rating: 8
Joe D.

Fully agreed with Denny. IMHO...

BP's thorough, considered analysis tends to be of a very high quality, often with perspectives from multiple people, notably including KG on the prospects.

Their instant analysis tends to be similar to that which can be found anywhere, which is the nature of the beast.

This trade is a perfect example of that dichotomy. Many of the quick-response write-ups I've seen on the deal, including those at notable sabermetrically-inclined websites, have glazed over Noesi and Campos as though they mean nothing in the deal. It's nice for free, but I wouldn't pay for that as I do for BP...

Jan 15, 2012 12:00 PM
rating: 2
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

Thanks guys, and that's correct denny and Joe D. We will have a thorough analysis on the trade tomorrow from RJ and Kevin.

Jan 15, 2012 12:16 PM

What is the purpose of an unfiltered blog if not to get the immediate (diversified?)impressions from at least one member of a host of BP writers on the most important news of the weekend?

None of that would preclude the definitive white paper that we will get tomorrow.

God forbid that we get something other than a monolith of opinion on the subject.

Jan 15, 2012 19:10 PM
rating: 3
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Truth be told - BP proabably needed the weekend to try to figure out how they are going to pick the Red Sox for the AL East like the do nearly every year after this trade.

Jan 15, 2012 19:18 PM
rating: -10

Shame we can't get pay-quality comments with our subscriptions as well, really.

Jan 16, 2012 05:54 AM
rating: 8

Boy,Maury you hit the nail on the head with Ellsbury as he just signed a 1 year deal for $8.05 million.

Jan 17, 2012 15:20 PM
rating: 1
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Heartburn Hardball: Ja... (01/13)
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