Arbitration

Today's MLBTR Glossary entry:

Arbitration exists to help teams and players settle on contracts. The two sides usually come to an agreement without having to go to an arbitration hearing, but if they can't, each side submits a figure and a panel of three arbitrators chooses one of them. 

When a player has between three and six years service time or qualifies as a Super Two, he's arbitration eligible, but isn't yet free to negotiate with other teams. Here's how arbitration works:

  • Generally speaking, players almost never receive pay cuts through arbitration, and usually receive raises.
  • Teams must offer contracts to players under team control by the non-tender deadline (typically in December) or see them become free agents.
  • Players file for arbitration in January, with figures due to be exchanged a few days later.  Some teams, nicknamed "File and Trial" clubs, choose to automatically go to a hearing if they reach the figure exchange date without an agreement.
  • Teams and players can continue to negotiate up until the scheduled hearing.
  • Only a handful of hearings occur each year, in February.  Each side has one hour for initial presentation, and then a half-hour for rebuttal and summation.  At the end, the three-person arbitration panel chooses one side's salary figure. 

 Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.  Updated 11-11-13.


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