BP.com's original column launched in 1996, TA has been where Christina Kahrl ponders the implications of recent roster moves, their impact on managerial tactics or how they reflect organizational behavior. Plus a few too many references to things that have nothing to do with baseball.
A wrap-up of all the deals, major and mainly minor, made before arbitration figures are exchanged.
Most of this is just a long list of everyone happily skipping the process, having used it to get a sense of what they want, and then eagerly avoiding presenting cases to the now infamously dim panels. Having seen the sort of money shelled out, we now have a much better sense of what teams have on board as far as their 2010 financial commitments, and what they might be capable of affording to repair a problem at one position or another. Or not, in the case of the Mets and their putting a brave face on employing Omir Santos as their initial catcher of choice, but with as much spinning as they're resorting to these days, perhaps we can consider that Ed Hearn's revenge.
With so many surprising decisions on who was offered arbitration and who wasn't, perhaps there's a simpler way to make the decision.
As news of the arbitration offers (or lack thereof) trickled out on Tuesday, I found myself growing increasingly disappointed with the number of teams failing to make offers to their players. Of the 21 Type-A free agents who could be offered arbitration, 11 were not. That number is stupefying. Of the 53 Type-B free agents, 38 were not offered arbitration. That number is staggering.
Faced with the prospect of a mystifying reality, my first recourse is to quantify. Sure, my desk is covered with envelopes onto the backs of which I've scribbled chicken scratch. But at least I experienced a degree of certainty. Let me share my back-of-the-envelope Theory of the Arbitration Offer.
With the offers of arbitration in place, has the market corrected from last year's Type-A fiasco?
The deadline for offering arbitration to free agents passed last night, and once again a fairly small number of players received offers, just 23 of 70 ranked free agents. I've written in the past that for almost all ranked players, this should be a fairly simple decision: almost any player good enough to be a ranked free agent is good enough to warrant having back on a one-year deal with a salary determined through arbitration. Given that this offer is a necessary step in receiving draft-pick compensation for free agents-if you decline to offer arbitration, you forfeit the right to compensation-it's long been my contention that teams should err on the side of making the offer. The downside is very small.
Talking arbitration with long-time baseball arbitrator, professor, and author, Roger Abrams.
The Richardson Professor of Law at Northeastern University School of Law, Roger Abrams has been a baseball salary arbitrator since 1986. A former scholar-in-residence at the Baseball Hall of Fame, Abrams is the author of four books, including Legal Bases: Baseball and the Law, and Money Pitch: Baseball Free Agency and Salary Arbitration. David talked to Abrams about the baseball arbitration process, including who is eligible, what can and cannot be argued at a hearing, and why arbitration works.
Summing up the totals on the more than 100 players who filed for arbitration this offseason.
It was the foresight of Marvin Miller, just after Curt Flood lost his challenge of MLB's antitrust exemption in the Supreme Court, that set the stage for the creation of salary arbitration. Miller understood that trying to achieve free agency for players immediately after the Flood ruling was not going to be fruitful, so salary arbitration was offered as an alternative. With the exception of Gussie Busch and Charlie Finley, the owners accepted the process as part of the new deal. Miller saw this as one of the greatest achievements of his early career as executive director of the MLBPA. He correctly anticipated that even though some players would lose their arbitration cases, they would still see a boost to their salaries as compared to not having the process.
Arbitration, seen as a pox by management, is a system that encourages negotiation and compromise, as we've seen over the past few days.
Those of us under 40 have little memory of how big a deal holdouts were before arbitration. There was a time when a player's only leverage in salary negotiations-which happened every year in a time before multi-year contracts became standard-was to withhold his services. So every spring, players would either not show up for spring training or go down to Florida and not participate, trying to use their absence to force their teams to come to the table with more than a number and a stern glare. Sometimes it was successful, but it was always wildly confrontational and often a media circus.
Over the next three weeks, hearings will be held to determine salaries for dozens of ballplayers. These hearings are the culmination of a process that begins in December, but has its roots in the early 1970s.
Salary arbitration had humble beginnings. The owners were exhausted by holdouts who refused to show up for spring training. The players were sick of having that refusal to play as their sole leverage in contract negotiations. With Flood v. Baseball failing to force a change in the reserve clause, arbitration seemed a reasonable solution.
Ed Fitzgerald, the Milwaukee Brewers Chairman and head of the owners' Player Relations Committee (PRC) in the early 1970s, embraced the idea as a way to neutralize the MLBPA's push for free agency. The Association's arguments against the owners would be weakened if the Lords showed a willingness to submit to binding and independent salary arbitration. Other owners, in particular the A's Charlie Finley and the Cardinals' Dick Meyer (who had experience with binding arbitration when he was labor chief of Anheuser-Busch), were suspicious, claiming that arbitration would drive salaries up. Which it would, compared to the status quo.
The Braves strike NRI gold with Russell Branyan. The Astros do what they need to do to compete in the NL Central. Everything you ever wanted to read about Eric Karros. The Padres address their chasm in center. These and other news, notes, and Kahrlisms in today's Transaction Analysis.
Re-signed INF-R Benji Gil and DH-L Brad Fullmer to one-year contracts.
Signed OF-R Eric Owens to a one-year contract, and LHP Rich Rodriguez, 2B-R Adam Riggs, and UT-R Oscar Salazar to minor league contracts.
Avoided arbitration with 2B-L Adam Kennedy, INF-B Scott Spiezio, and LHPs Jarrod Washburn and Scott Schoeneweis.
Claimed C-R Wil Nieves off of waivers (from the Padres).