Tuesday was the deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration figures, and looking at the figures over at Maury’s Biz of Baseball site, one player stood out like a sore thumb (or should I say, sore forearm?)–John Patterson. He’s hardly the most glamorous player out there–Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Zambrano, and Chase Utley were among the players exchanging figures with their clubs–but Patterson stands out of the pack by having the highest difference between his asking price and the club’s offer in arbitration.
In terms of actual dollars, Zambrano and the Cubs have the highest differential between asked and offered this season, about four and a half million dollars. But Zambrano’s $15.5 million asking price is only 41% higher than the Cubs’ $11 million offer, which isn’t that far out of line with the cumulative 31% difference between all player salary submissions and team offers. In contrast, Patterson and the Nationals are only $1 million apart, but since Patterson’s only looking to make $1.85 million, his asking price is 118% higher than Jim Bowden’s offer. No other player/team combination had anywhere near as serious a disconect between their submissions. The next highest percentage differential was 63%, between Lew Ford’s asking price of $1.3 million and the Twins’ offer of $800,000.
Patterson was plagued by flexor tendon trouble in ‘06 that required surgery, and wound up making only eight starts, following a 2005 campaign in which he was one of the top ten pitchers in the NL, by VORP. Still, 2005 marked the first time in his career that Patterson topped 170 innings in a season, and for better or for worse, he’s acquired the tag of a fragile player–prior to last year’s forearm problem he’d had Tommy John surgery in the minors, back spasms, and groin problems.
Because this is “Final Offer Arbitration”, if this case goes through to its conclusion, an arbitrator will have to choose between the Nats’ salary offer or Patterson’s submitted figure. Despite the palpable injury risk, the Nats $850,000 offer looks low. If Patterson’s healthy–I know, huge “if”–he’ll earn the money he’s asking for and then some. PECOTA predicts a 4.39 EqERA for Patterson, roughly the same as predicted for Ted Lilly, Chris Young, and Tim Hudson. Most cases seem to settle before going to an arbitrator, but if this one doesn’t, it’ll be interesting to see how the standoff shakes out.