Ten Arbitration Cases To Watch

There aren't many unsigned arbitration eligible players remaining at this point in the winter, but many of the most high-profile cases remain unresolved. As MLBTR's Arb Tracker shows, 26 arbitration eligible players have yet to agree on their 2011 salaries. Some of them will sign extensions, some will go to hearings and others will avoid arbitration with one-year deals. Here's a primer on ten of the most interesting arbitration eligible players out there:

10. Mike Napoli, Blue Jays - In case arbitration cases weren't complicated enough, the Blue Jays have to defend the Angels' number ($5.3MM) if they go to an arbitration hearing with Napoli, who filed at $6.1MM. The numbers stand, even though the Blue Jays acquired the catcher/first baseman after the Angels exchanged arbitration submissions with him.

9. R.A. Dickey, Mets – Dickey has said he's open to a multiyear deal. We'll soon know whether Mets GM Sandy Alderson wants to extend the knuckleballer or settle on a contract in the $3.35-4.7MM range.

8. Delmon Young, Twins - There's a $1.6MM difference between Young's asking price ($6.25MM) and the Twins' suggested salary ($4.65MM). 

7. Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles – As I explained yesterday, Guthrie's case could come down to his durability (175 innings in four consecutive seasons) vs. the fact that comparable starters (John Danks, Chad Billingsley, Matt Garza) have been harder to hit.

6. Rickie Weeks, Brewers – The Brewers are no longer discussing a multiyear deal with Weeks, who is asking for $7.2MM. The Brewers countered with $4.85MM.

5. Francisco Liriano, Twins - Liriano made $1.6MM last year and posted a 3.62 ERA with 9.4 K/9 in 191 2/3 innings. His representatives at Legacy Sports will argue that he has earned a raise to $5MM, while Bill Smith and the Twins say $3.6MM is more appropriate.

4. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros – Rodriguez's $10.25MM asking price seems high until you realize how few arbitration eligible pitchers have comparable big league experience (the Astros offered $8MM). Rodriguez is just 15 innings shy of 1,000 for his career and his ERA hasn't surpassed 3.60 in any of the past three seasons. The lefty's 985 innings are 246 more than Erik Bedard had after 2008, the season that set Bedard up for a $7.75MM payday. Few arbitration eligible pitchers earn eight-figure deals, but few have as much big league experience and success as Rodriguez.

3. Jered Weaver, Angels - Weaver requested $8.8MM, while the Angels countered with $7.465MM. Either way, the Scott Boras client will be earning substantially more than he did in 2010, when he made $4.625MM.

2. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays – I wrote last fall that Bautista's case comes down to his historic 2010 season vs. the forgettable campaigns he strung together before last year. Click here to read more.

1. Josh Hamilton, Rangers - The Rangers could bring up Hamilton’s injury history and past substance abuse, but they would have to do so subtly, says Michael Vlessides, a veteran arbitration consultant.  “It’s the fine line between how much do you pick on the guy who’s the MVP. If you do it too much, you can lose a lot of credibility” Vlessides said. Beating MVPs in arbitration hearings isn’t easy, but the Pirates beat Barry Bonds after he won his first MVP in 1990 and again the following offseason.

46 Responses to Ten Arbitration Cases To Watch Leave a Reply

  1. pastlives 5 years ago

    you know, i suspect the Jays won’t mind losing Napoli’s case too much

    • Guest 5 years ago

      I think they’ll meet in the middle before before the arb deadline. No point in starting the new relationship on a bad foot.

      • budman3 5 years ago

        Unless he gets flipped.

        • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

          doubtful… listening to AA’s interview this morning on the Jeff Blair show, sounds to me like he is really excited for Napoli because of the flexibility he adds to 1b, Catcher and DH positions.

          • Sniderlover 5 years ago

            That reason right there is probably why he wanted Martin. I know people wanted Manny and all but if Manny could play 1B then he would be on AA’s radar.

            I’m not sure if AA’s policy still stands since he didn’t work out a negotiation with him but either way, it won’t really make much of a difference.

            Bautista case is pretty interesting though. They are nearly 3 million apart and that does hamper negotiations for a long-term contract and I am very curious if Bautista can continue to hit the way he did (not 50+ HR, but can he get 35-40, or even 40+?). I am hpoing he can get hit something along the lines of .250/.355/.540

      • Toronto310 5 years ago

        AA doesnt negotite 1 year deals once numbers are exchanged, he is open to multi year deals but will go to arb for 1 year deals.

        • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

          given the fact that he didn’t submit the number, he might be willing to work something out with naps.

        • Guest 5 years ago

          It would be silly and irresponsible for AA not to try and negotiate a contract with Napoli.

          Two hypothetical questions I have. If AA could have traded VW before Crawford signs, would the Jays have been big players? Would the Jays still sign EE? I say yes and no.

          • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

            I think EE at that salary is still a decent pick up, he also adds insurance at 3 positions (DH, 3B, 1B) in case of any injury.. He also hits lefties pretty well if Lind’s struggles verse them persist

            As for being a big player, I’d say no.. Crawford didn’t want to play on turf and doesn’t like to lead off..

            I doubt very much that AA would have shedded Vdub’s contract only to take on a 150 mil contract

  2. garylanglais 5 years ago

    What about Kelly Johnson? He actually becomes Weeks’s best comparable. Both had big power-hitting numbers for 2B’s last year but have struggled in preceding years. If he wins at arb or settles anywhere close to his number ($6.5/$4.7) he gives Weeks a great comparison with his midpoint being $6.025. Johnson should definitely be on the list.

  3. dc21892 5 years ago

    Some serious pop from the 2 Jays catchers. Napoli/JPA are going to run into more than a couple balls that are headed over the fence. I’m very interested to see where Bautista lies in arbitration. Is he primed for a HUGE raise after ONE good season?

    • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

      I’d like to see a 3 year deal get worked out…

      I think Jbau going in to this year with FA on the line will cause him to hold the bat a little tight and try to do too much. a 3/30 seems fair, both sides have a little risk involved in the deal. 4th year option worth 15 mil.

      • Guest 5 years ago

        Unless Bautista has stated he won’t negotiate during the season, I’d rather see the Jays wait to see how much he falls back down to earth. The team isn’t going to compete for at least 2 years, if not more, so I don’t see the value in signing him. There are way too many unknowns on the team. Is Snider and JPA for real? Which season reflects Lind and Hill better, 2009 or 2010? How far away are Hech, Lawrie? Are Drebek, Stewart and Zep ready for the next level?

        To me, the Jays need to figure out wtf they have with all these high ceiling players before they sign aging long term contracts. (yeah Bats isn’t that old, but a lot can happen in 2 years)

        • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

          While I agree with your second point, the first one of waiting for the season to begin is worrisome.. Remember the start he got off to last year?

          The jays have 2 scenarios right now

          A) pay him a modest contract and risk him falling back down to a glorified utility player
          b) have him achieve another 30+ HR season, and lose him to free agency possibly getting no more then picks for a player who may sign a 70-100 million dollar contract

          as far as I see it, given the new financial state of the organization, it would be far more risky to lose a coveted asset for next to nothing, than it would be to pay him to do 10 million to do next to nothing.

          • Guest 5 years ago

            c) do not sign him, if falls back down to a glorified utility, take your type B minimum draft pick, and you are not tied to the contract….or, if he’s on pace for his 30+ HR season, you sell high and trade at the deadline. You get more than your draft picks, and your not tied to a contract when your not competing.

  4. Since_77 5 years ago

    I wonder if Brian Cashman will try to swing a trade for Rodriquez? He’s 33 and can be a free agent at the end of the year. The Astros might try to see what they can get for him.

    • dc21892 5 years ago

      He’s a solid pitcher. I would think they’ve at least discussed it with the Astros. I could see the Yankees looking at Ryan Dempster and possibly Scott Kazmir if the Angels are dangling him.

    • slider32 5 years ago

      Wandy might be a good target for the Yanks, he’s a lefty who is projected 4.4 on fangraphs. This seems like a no-brainer if the Astros want to trade him. If they do he could bring them a player like Romine and Noesi, 2 B prospects.

  5. do they mean substance abuse like street drugs or PED’s?

    • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

      street drugs.. believe it or not, josh hamilton was at one point a junkie…

      • dc21892 5 years ago

        Yep. Too bad he was. He’s had 5 tool player written all over him for a long time. Imagine what could have been…

        • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

          don’t you find it even more remarkable what he’s become..

          I mean to go on a crack binge and then win the AL MVP..

          just shows you have much talent this guy actually has..

          I also wonder why we don’t hear of more talented kids who don’t get mixed up in the wrong stuff after they are 18-19 living on their own with large signing bonuses….

          • dc21892 5 years ago

            No doubt. Great to see.

          • Most burn out in the low minors and are footnotes.

            Tom Wilhemsen with the Brewers and Jeff Allison from the Marlins org for two examples.

          • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

            not familiar with either.. they hit the pipe?

            MLB should definitely look in to deferring signing bonuses until the age of 21 or something ..

          • dc21892 5 years ago

            I believe Jeff Allison was a highly touted pitching prospect. Could be thinking of someone else, though.

          • vtadave 5 years ago

            Nope, that’s the guy. Drew some Josh Beckett comparisons coming out of the draft, but heroin and OxyContin derailed his career. He’s now a 26 year-old coming off a poor year in Double-A. At least he’s still giving it a go, but there doesn’t appear to be a Hamilton-like ending in store for him. At least he’s still alive…

          • garylanglais 5 years ago

            Allison is from the town next to mine. There was alot of speculation that he was abusing throughout HS. Was MA baseball player of the year and went top half of 1st round to Marlins. Shortly after being drafted and reporting to camp he was sent home and shut down for some time. He came back but was never the same. I believe he had another relapse before finally coming clean. The problem is teams have a difficult time learning such information before drafting these players and handing out the big signing bonuses. Hopefully with the new minor league blood testing rules they will begin to apply those to draft eligible players as well.

      • metsman 5 years ago

        now he’s high on jesus, which, if you have ever been around a born-again, can be even worse…praise the lord, hallelujah!!!

  6. Lunchbox45 5 years ago

    Texas would be idiotic to bring up Hamilton’s substance abuse in the arb hearings… For the 3.25 he received last year, the Rangers got the best bargain in sports. . The guy is probably one of the most naturally gifted players ever, the Rangers should lock him down now before he gets too expensive.

    It doesn’t send a good message to the Josh when the team was willing to spend on Lee but get all cheap when it comes to him.

  7. Backup_Slider 5 years ago

    Weeks and his representatives are flat out loony asking for $7.2M. If he had consistently posted numbers like he did in 2010 they’d have a decent shot, but his pre-2010 numbers pretty much eliminate any chance his side has of winning the case.

    • Lunchbox45 5 years ago

      not based on what other second baseman in this market are making.

      • RedSoxDynasty 5 years ago

        Aaron Hill immediately comes to mind for overpaid 2B!

    • garylanglais 5 years ago

      He doesnt have to prove he’s worth $7.2 to win the case. He only has to prove he’s 1 dollar over the midpoint which is a shade over $6 mil which he is has a shot at arguing. He will use Uggla and Kelly Johnson (if he settles over 6 or wins his case) as comparisons. Power hitting 2B’s have huge advantages in hearings due to there being so few of them

  8. AmericanMovieFan 5 years ago

    I think Hamilton is such a unique case that he should be handled uniquely. I would say lock him up long term to a heavily incentive laden deal with opt out clauses on both sides. Something that could max out at 6 years/$120MM but wouldn’t be more than 2 years/$12MM guaranteed. I know it sounds crazy but the fact is he’s either worth A-list money or is such a huge liability that nobody wants to pay him, so they’ve got to meet in the middle somehow.

  9. cubs223425 5 years ago

    How are Guthrie and Dickey more watch-worthy than Marmol and Garza (assuming that they don’t get deals done)?

    • BlueCatuli 5 years ago

      I thought Garza already avoided arbitration. I was a little confused as to why Marmol wasn’t on there.

  10. If I were Ed Wade, going to arb with Wandy Rodriguez, the first thing I’d bring up would be his home/road splits. Without checking I’d guess that Wandy is one of the more extreme examples of pitching well at home and poorly on the road, and he’s done it consistently for awhile. I don’t think it’s something that works in his favor, for instance I doubt Wandy would bring up the fact that he pitches so well at home. The ‘Stros definitely should bring it up though.

    • Since_77 5 years ago

      You might be right but the Astros overall as a team played 13 games under .500 on the road.

      Rodriquez can also add that he was 5 wins and 1 loss with a 2.11 ERA in after the All-Star break.

  11. baycommuter 5 years ago

    The Pirates must feel really good about beating Barry Bonds two straight years in arbitration instead of trying to get him to sign an extension… the Rangers are in the same boat.

  12. metsman 5 years ago

    I’m suprised Pagan doesn’t make this list; while there is not a large discrepancy between offered and requested figures, if you look at the salaries of those who put up similar numbers last year, Pagan is grossly underpaid for being in the prime of his career. he had the 9th highest WAR of all position players in the NL.

  13. Josh Hamilton should get PAID! He deserves it and if they are worried about the drug issue, just add the stipulation into the contract. Its that simple.

  14. Twins need to forget about arbitration with Delmon Young and lock him up for a multiyear deal or he could get very expensive after this season

    • The Twins probably can’t afford to lock up Delmon Young, plus with Revere and Hicks coming up, they probably don’t need to

      • No chance they’ll get anywhere near the production out of either of them. Neither are power hitters, Delmon is. Can’t afford to? They’re already going to pay him over 5 mill this year so might as well extend the deal so the price doesn’t go up

  15. Same thing with Liriano too actually

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