Jeremy Guthrie’s Arbitration Case

Jeremy Guthrie's representatives at CAA will have to convince a panel of arbitrators that their client is worth more than $5.75MM if the sides go to a hearing. The Orioles offered the arbitration eligible 31-year-old $5MM, while he asked for $6.5MM. The discussion figures to revolve around three similar pitchers in the same service time class – Chad Billingsley, Matt Garza and John Danks – and will likely come down to durability vs. dominance.

Guthrie can point to his own durability and argue that he's worth more than $5.75MM. He has logged 812 1/3 innings in his career, more than fellow-CAA clients Garza and Danks. Garza will earn $5.95MM next year, Danks will earn $6MM and Billingsley will earn $6.275MM.

Guthrie Guthrie has made at least 26 starts and logged no fewer than 175 innings in each of the last four campaigns. The other three starters cannot match the Baltimore right-hander's durability, as CAA will likely point out. Only Garza has had to compete regularly in the AL East, where Guthrie regularly faces some of the game's most potent offenses.

The Orioles, however, can argue that Guthrie's durability is compromised by inconsistent results. He led the American League in losses a year ago and posted an ERA over 5.00. None of the three other pitchers have posted an ERA that high since their rookie seasons and all of them have more wins and fewer losses than Guthrie in their careers.

Baltimore can also argue that despite Guthrie's durability, he has been hittable. The 2002 first rounder has been tagged for more hits and homers than the others, both in total and on a per-inning basis. Guthrie, the Orioles could argue, is less dominant than the other pitchers and therefore not deserving of a salary above the $5.75MM midpoint.

They could support that argument by pointing to his 4.15 career ERA (none of the others have career marks above 4.00, a seemingly arbitrary cutoff that could sway a panel of arbitrators). Despite Guthrie's high innings total, Billingsley, Garza and Danks have all struck out more hitters in their careers. 

But Guthrie's representatives can point out that he has walked fewer batters than the others, both in 2010 and on a career basis. Guthrie's 2.6 B/9 mark is far better than the others, who have all walked at least 3.1 batters per nine in their respective careers.

So can the Orioles convince a panel of arbitrators that Guthrie's worth less than $5.75MM next year despite his history of durability? That's the $1.5MM question and we'll know the answer to it within a few weeks at the latest.


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18 Comments on "Jeremy Guthrie’s Arbitration Case"


4 years 7 months ago

Great article, and good question. I actually consider Guthrie’s arb. case one of the more exciting ones for this off-season.

mike melusky
4 years 7 months ago

Guthrie hit his stride after Buck took over in August. If he pitches 2011 like he did in August and September last year, he’ll have a monster payday for the 2012 season.

4 years 7 months ago

I think 5 million is too much for Guthrie!! There are so many young pitchers (see entire tampa bay rays starting rotation) far outproducing Guthrie and earning far less.

ugen64
4 years 7 months ago

that’s only because they’re not entering the 2nd year of arbitration… the club unilaterally decides a player’s salary during their first 3 (or 2, if they’re a Super Two) years of major league service. most players’ salaries stay in the $400k – $450k range for those seasons.

4 years 7 months ago

Oh I understand that which is why teams like the Rays, Twins, and other teams with great pitching farm systems will trade, release or designate for assignment when the players salary outweighs his production.

METfan201
4 years 7 months ago

I want Jeremy Guthrie to go to the mets for an odd reasonnn!

ugen64
4 years 7 months ago

why not, he’d be a good fit for most MLB teams as a mid-rotation starter. the AL East is home to 3 of baseball’s 5 most homer-friendly parks (and Camden Yards is one of them). that’s Guthrie’s biggest problem, giving up home runs, so basically any move out of the division would help his numbers. hopefully he signs an extension, but if he doesn’t, I think he’ll get traded to a contender before next season at the latest.

basemonkey
4 years 7 months ago

One caveat: the Orioles arbitration team is one of the best in baseball, if not, the best. For all of the issues that come with having Angelos as the owner, he is a prominent lawyer in the country known for bringing down the cigarette industry to bear, and this is one of the single areas where he helps the organization make their case a strong one. The agents of their players tend to prefer to avoid arbitration altogether because of this. I think they are nearly undefeated in the last decade-plus.

That said, as Ben shows, Guthrie has a definite argument to get a better price than what the club offered. They seem close enough to avoid arbitration though.

baseball1
4 years 7 months ago

Great post basemonkey, you are 100% correct about the Angelos factor.

mstrchef13
4 years 7 months ago

The argument is moot. I think that the Orioles and Guthrie come to terms on a three year agreement that buys out the rest of his arbitration plus his first year of free agency. My guess is that he gets $5.75MM for this year, $7.5MM for 2012, and $8.75MM for 2013 (total value $22MM), plus an option year for 2014, let’s call it $10MM with a $2 MM buyout.

As basemonkey pointed out, the Orioles have a great record with arbitration. They have only had nine cases since 1994, going 8-1 and winning their last six. They have not gone to arbitration in five years (the last was Rodrigo Lopez in 2006).

4 years 7 months ago

Is there a place to see Arbitration ‘records’ like this for other teams?

4 years 7 months ago

At bizofbaseball.com, which has been linked on here a few times, Maury Brown has the historical records of arbitration cases year by year. What MLBTR has started this year with the arbitration tracker is an excellent, sortable list that will be the best on the net once the data comes in. Just my .02 worth.

David C. Ruckman
4 years 7 months ago

I don’t think this will go to arbitration; I have a feeling Guthrie will get his contract extension in the next week and a half.

Karkat
4 years 7 months ago

Guthrie and Bautista are probably going to be the two closest arbitration cases assuming they both make it that far. I don’t actually think Guthrie’s should be as close as it looks to be, though. His numbers are *not* worth $6.5 mil.

4 years 7 months ago

How about Galarraga for Guthrie? Hah!

4 years 7 months ago

Only two or three cases per season actually go to a hearing. Part of the reason is that there are enough similar cases that you can at least pin down a range within which the player should fall, salary wise, and the term is decided- one year. Agents and clubs all have the same data, so they know the range, and they can usually find an agreeable number within that range.

Lunchbox45
4 years 7 months ago

not to mention going and presenting a case on why a player should not get the higher amount is usually detrimental to the relationship between player and team.

4 years 7 months ago

I like how this article fails to mention that Gutherie was by far the most consistent pitcher they had. He has also put up a sub 4 era in 3 of 4 years. Not to mention he is likely a number 2 or 3 pitcher, yet the O’s suck so bad he has to pitch as the ace and match up with some of the best pitchers in baseball. He deserves the raise.