A Closer Look At Unsigned Arbitration Eligible Players

Less than a month ago, 142 MLB players filed for salary arbitration. Today, just 16 of those players remain unsigned, as MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker shows. I've discussed many of these cases with team executives or agents to get a sense of the players' value. Here are the ten most prominent cases remaining (sorted by the midpoint between team and player submissions):

1. David Ortiz, Red Sox ($14.575MM midpoint) – Unlike most of the players on this list, Ortiz will be compared to free agents if he goes to a hearing with the Red Sox. This part of the arbitration process isn’t quite as well defined as it is for players with less than six years of service, and the relative uncertainty may have contributed to the spread of nearly $4MM. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald recently asked arbitration expert Tal Smith about the case and suggested Adam Dunn, Victor Martinez and Paul Konerko are possible comps. 

2. Mike Napoli, Rangers ($9.9MM midpoint) – Napoli put together a tremendous regular season and punctuated it with three postseason home runs. He's looking for a salary of $11.5MM and could argue that the length and consistency of his career contribution puts him in Andre Ethier ($10.95MM) territory. Meanwhile, the Rangers may point to Hunter Pence's recent $3.5MM raise and argue that Napoli should obtain a relatively modest boost from his 2011 salary of $5.8MM.

Nelson Cruz - Rangers

3. Nelson Cruz, Rangers ($6.5MM midpoint) – Cruz (pictured) is linked to Adam Jones this year, since their numbers and salary demands are comparable. Expect Cruz, the 2011 ALCS MVP, to earn more in 2012.

4. Adam Jones, Orioles ($6.2MM midpoint) – Jones and his representatives at CAA will argue that the center fielder has earned a salary of $7.4MM salary after another stellar season in Baltimore. The Orioles will argue the demand for a $4.15MM raise is unreasonable and they could point to recent raises Adam LaRoche (after 2007), Delmon Young (after 2010), Cody Ross (after 2010), Napoli (after 2010) and Miguel Montero (after 2011) in an attempt to keep Jones below the midpoint.

5. Alex Gordon, Royals ($4.8MM midpoint) – The Royals explored the possibility of a long-term deal earlier in the offseason and are now nearing a one-year deal. Should the sides go to a hearing, the Royals could point to Gordon’s history of inconsistency, while agent Casey Close could build his case around Gordon's strong 2011 platform season.

6. Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians ($4.475MM midpoint) – The Indians are discussing a multiyear deal with Cabrera, who could be in line for an extension in the four-year, $27MM range.

7. Elvis Andrus, Rangers ($3.125MM midpoint) – Power pays in arbitration and Andrus is anything but a power hitter. However, he's looking at a salary in the $3MM range thanks to three full seasons of 145-plus games and additional contributions in the postseason. It might also make sense for the sides to explore a multiyear deal.

8. Casey McGehee, Pirates ($2.538MM midpoint) – McGehee and teammate Garrett Jones are linked via arbitration, as I explained last week.

9. Garrett Jones, Pirates ($2.375MM midpoint) – Recent first-time eligible position players such as Seth Smith ($2.415MM), Colby Rasmus ($2.7MM), Ian Stewart ($2.229MM) and David Murphy ($2.4MM) could figure in to discussions for McGehee and Jones as well.

10. Jose Veras, Brewers ($2.19MM midpoint) – Veras, who was traded for McGehee earlier this offseason, has already been non-tendered twice. He's now going through the arbitration process for the first time, and has 318 respectable career innings and a strong platform season to his name.

For more on salary arbitration in baseball check out MLBTR’s arbitration resources. Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


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21 Comments on "A Closer Look At Unsigned Arbitration Eligible Players"


aricollins
3 years 5 months ago

Huh. Considering the AAV of the three comps for Ortiz are $12.5MM, $12.5MM, and $14MM, perhaps Boston has a good shot of winning that argument. Could certainly help their money issues if they do.

3 years 5 months ago

I cannot see how Boston could lose this case. A 36 year-old non-fielding DH with declining power. Those facts are enough to close the case. Add extended interleague to the mix, and Ortiz looks more like a dinosaur than the elite.

If Ortiz is the team player he says he is, he should’ve taken their 12.5MM in the first place. HE is blocking them from getting that #4 free agent starter. HE is the reason Scutaro got the boot.

aricollins
3 years 5 months ago

I’m pretty sure that Boston is blocking themselves. They didn’t have to offer him arbitration.

Nor did they have to sign Lackey.

The Red Sox have no one to blame but themselves for being up against the luxury cap.

3 years 5 months ago

You also have to realize that the arbitration process relies on counting stats which Ortiz puts up.  I don’t think he’ll win, but I don’t see it as a slam dunk either (otherwise he would’ve signed a 1 year deal for slightly more than the BOS offer by now).

oz10
3 years 5 months ago

same type of interleague play this year as it has been. 2013 is when the interleague gets expanded.

mmwatkin
3 years 5 months ago

How does one become an “Arbitration Expert”?

cubsfanraysaddict
3 years 5 months ago

Law school or mlbtr/fangraphs :)

Eric Foley
3 years 5 months ago

Hey Mike Napoli, I know 500 million people who would love a 3 million dollar raise!

3 years 5 months ago

1mil is enough for me….

Mike1L
3 years 5 months ago

In retrospect, Boston shouldn’t have offered him arbitration-looking at the Pena deal, they could have gotten 80% of the hitter and a plus-fielding first baseman.  The market has moved away from players like Ortiz-if he shopped around, he might have ended up with a lot less than he’s going to get out of the Red Sox, or had to come back to the Sox on a two year deal closer to the 2/18 he was originally offered.  From Ortiz’s perspective, the moment they offered arb, there was no reason for him to take 2/18, since he’s likely to earn more of the next two years. But, unless he duplicates last year (which is very unlikely) his 2013 contract is going to be a fraction of his 2012.

3 years 5 months ago

I think this year will prove interesting.  Steroids may be a thing of the past and superman may become surrounded with kryptonite.  Will Clark Kent be able to get it done without jokers being wild or will the next few chapters prove to be interesting?  What might be the next evil to enter the arena? Maybe a steroid that could be used during the offseason to bring muscle mass to new levels or one that can only be detected for a short period of time. Maybe a supplement as simple as niacin that could be taken prior to testing that would result in inconclusive results and the horn blown to have readily available a more expensive alternative for the next test.  Perhaps bionics.  Bionic eyes and ears may come before some of the other body parts.  Tommy John surgery might be a good time to expand.   If one side of the equation is changed the other side must be changed also if the equation is to stay balanced. Ping pong anyone? 

tomymogo
3 years 5 months ago

Adam Jones, and Nelson Cruz are comparable……….They don’t walk much, but power is totally on Cruz, a career 834 OPS vs Jones 756 OPS

3 years 5 months ago

 HAHA, that is hilarious.  People forget he is/was ‘roided out with Manny

aricollins
3 years 5 months ago

Umm. Unlike your favorite team, the Yankees?

And every other team?

3 years 5 months ago

Yea, because nobody on the Yankees has ever cheated. I believe you have a giant asterisk on 3B.

ellisburks
3 years 5 months ago

Yeah, it’s good that the Yankees didn’t win with known steroid users like Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte etc.

aricollins
3 years 5 months ago

You realize every team has steroid users, right?

aricollins
3 years 5 months ago

Glad to have educated you, then!

lefty177
3 years 5 months ago

JSJS & w00ters mcgee don’t even deserve responses, the things they’re saying are literally blowing my mind!

3 years 5 months ago

As a Ranger sure. 

MB923
3 years 5 months ago

If I recall, he was caught cheating as a Texas Ranger.