Arbitration Records: Starting Pitchers

Several arbitration records could fall in 2012.  Here's my best attempt at finding the current records for starting pitchers who went year-to-year.

  • First time: Dontrelle Willis – $4.35MM (2006).  If you count the $100K in award bonuses Jered Weaver earned last year, he's the record holder at $4.365MM.
  • Second time: Jered Weaver – $7.37MM (2011).  Weaver's agent Scott Boras actually aimed to push this bar up to $8.8MM, but he lost an arbitration hearing to the Angels.  There does not appear to be a challenger to this record in the upcoming offseason.
  • Third time: Carlos Zambrano – $12.4MM (2007).  Z's $5.9MM raise had precedent: the $6MM raises Kevin Millwood and Chan Ho Park received early in the decade.

Whatever you consider the first-time record, it'll probably fall unless Clayton Kershaw and David Price sign multiyear extensions.  If those two aces have their first-time salaries determined in the arbitration process, they'll probably both reach $5MM.

Weaver, who already has six wins and 49 strikeouts on the season, has a good chance of topping Zambrano's $5.9MM raise and setting a new standard for elite pitchers going to arbitration for a third time.  Based on projections, Weaver should be well ahead of where Zambrano was before his third arbitration year in everything aside from ERA (in which they could be almost dead even).  Boras could have a good case for a $7-8MM raise, taking Weaver to a $15MM salary in his final year before free agency.

Side note: if Weaver's salary gets to such dizzying heights, the rising tide will lift those below him like John Danks and Matt Garza.  If Weaver gets to $15MM before Danks' salary is determined, Danks' agent can use that to his client's benefit.

We haven't yet mentioned Tim Lincecum, who would have eclipsed Willis' record had he not signed a two-year deal.  Lincecum is untouchable, and if his 2012 salary is determined by the arbitration process it will easily top Weaver's and be an arbitration record for all non-free agent players, not just pitchers. 


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14 Comments on "Arbitration Records: Starting Pitchers"


phoenix2042
4 years 3 months ago

What ever happened to Dontrelle Willis? Oh yeah, he walked himself right out of baseball. Poor guy… at least he’s set for life with that money!

TapDancingTeddy
4 years 3 months ago

He’s at AAA in the Reds system. I wish him luck – even if it’s only the luck of finding the plate and retiring with the knowledge that he can throw a strike. Going out the other way is just so humiliating.

AmericanMovieFan
4 years 3 months ago

They should lock down Price the same way they did Longoria, except give him a fair deal this time! He’s under team control through 2016, so I’d say 9 years/$135MM with a variety of opt out clauses on both ends, or making years 2017-2020 options.

j6takish
4 years 3 months ago

I think you are missing the point of drafting/developing talent…

LioneeR
4 years 3 months ago

People always say that teams should lock up their favorite young players to Longoria type deals. You realize Longoria barely had any at bats when he got his extension right? The Ray were making the deal based solely on his potential.

goner
4 years 3 months ago

Jered Weaver would do well to learn from his brother, who was also represented by Boras when he became a free agent (after winning the 2006 World Series with the Cardinals). They wanted a contract on the order of 3 years/$30M, but only got one year and $8.325M. Sometimes greed doesn’t work out.

0bsessions
4 years 3 months ago

Please tell me you’re kidding.

Jeff Weaver was coming off a season in which he’s put up numbers well below league average and he’s always been a pretty alright pitcher. Jered Weaver is one of the top ten pitchers in the MLB and probably a top five righty in the game. He’s an uncontested ace and most teams would kill to get their mitts on him.

Then again, Ramon Ramirez’s career was clearly indicative of Pedro’s, so maybe you’re on (to) something.

goner
4 years 3 months ago

Sorry, didn’t mean to imply that Jeff and Jered were comparable pitchers (or coming off comparable seasons), just that Boras’ chase for top dollar can sometimes bite the player in the rear.

0bsessions
4 years 3 months ago

No, I completely understood your point, my issue was that your point was insanely flawed.

Yes, Boras’ top dollar approach can bite players in the rear. Case in point: Johnny Damon, Jason varitek and Joe Crede. Now, the issue is that since none of these players are comparable to Jered Weaver in terms of quality, Boras’ inability to get them deals is irrelevant.

Basically, Boras’ money chasing can hurt players who really aren’t all that good because, well, they’re not all that good and Boras can’t change that. The big hook here is that Weaver isn’t “not all that good” he’s an elite pitcher, and elite pitchers get paid regardless of their agents.

Basically, there’s abolutely nothing Jered Weaver can learn from Jeff Weaver outside of how to look like a poor man’s Randy Johnson.

goner
4 years 3 months ago

“The big hook here is that Weaver isn’t ‘not all that good’ he’s an elite pitcher, and elite pitchers get paid regardless of their agents.”

Agreed. I hope that Jered remains an elite pitcher (doesn’t get injured), and gets paid accordingly.

Bob Bunker
9 months 1 day ago

Amazing picture with your name!

Amazing show!

0bsessions
4 years 3 months ago

ACTUAL moral of the story:

Don’t push your luck if you stink out loud.

j6takish
4 years 3 months ago

A good example of when “playing the game” goes wrong would have been Joe Crede, Jeff Weaver was an awful choice

0bsessions
4 years 3 months ago

I don’t really see Crede as a much better option, he’s never really been elite talent.

The only even remote comparable (And it’s a massive stretch) is Manny Ramirez. He basically played his way out of Boston over wanting long term security instead of his two option years only to end up with… a two year deal at the exact same AAV as his option years. Even that’s a stretch, though, as even though he was an elite hitter, he was still on the wrong side of thirty.

There’s simply no one you can directly compare to Weaver in a sense that would indicate he won’t get drowned in money when he hits free agency. He’ll be barely 29 when he hits free agency and all of his numbers are trending in the right direction and have been for years. If he can at least maintain his current quality for the next two years (And if anything, he’s likely to improve a little), he’s in line for at least $100 million and there’ll be no shortage of teams waiting eagerly to hand him that kind of money.