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.


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46 Comments on "Ten Arbitration Cases To Watch"


Guest
pastlives
4 years 5 months ago

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

Guest
Guest
4 years 5 months 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.

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budman3
4 years 5 months ago

Unless he gets flipped.

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Lunchbox45
4 years 5 months 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.

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Sniderlover
4 years 5 months 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

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Toronto310
4 years 5 months 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.

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Lunchbox45
4 years 5 months ago

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

Guest
Guest
4 years 5 months 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.

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Lunchbox45
4 years 5 months 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

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garylanglais
4 years 5 months 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.

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dc21892
4 years 5 months 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?

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Lunchbox45
4 years 5 months 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
Guest
4 years 5 months 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)

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Lunchbox45
4 years 5 months 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
Guest
4 years 5 months 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.

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Since_77
4 years 5 months 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.

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dc21892
4 years 5 months 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.

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slider32
4 years 5 months 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.

Guest
4 years 5 months ago

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

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Lunchbox45
4 years 5 months ago

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

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dc21892
4 years 5 months 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…

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Lunchbox45
4 years 5 months 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….

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dc21892
4 years 5 months ago

No doubt. Great to see.

Guest
4 years 5 months ago

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.

Guest
Lunchbox45
4 years 5 months 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 ..

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dc21892
4 years 5 months ago

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

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vtadave
4 years 5 months 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…

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garylanglais
4 years 5 months 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.

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metsman
4 years 5 months 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!!!