Braves second baseman Dan Uggla went to arbitration with the Florida Marlins in 2009 after hitting 90 home runs and accumulating 270 RBI during his first three seasons in the big leagues. The Marlins filed at $4.4MM while Uggla requested $5.35MM. Uggla won his case, earning one of the biggest salary jumps ever for a player going through the arbitration process for the first time. Uggla, now a Gaylord Sports Management client, was a Beverly Hills Sports Council client at the time he won his arbitration hearing. He spent a few minutes reflecting on his case with B.J. Rains for MLB Trade Rumors:
“Obviously it’s a very long process. Negotiations are usually never quick. We negotiated all the way up until the time we had to give each other the numbers. My case was a little bit different because with the Marlins, once you submit your number, there’s no more negotiations. Usually in arbitration you can submit your numbers and still come to an agreement but with the Marlins, if you don’t come to an agreement before that then you're going into the room and going to the hearing, so mine was different.
“It made sense for me to go ahead and take that chance and go into the room because there was such a big difference and we were so far apart. I didn’t know it until they put their number in, but they put in $4.4MM and they were offering me $4.5MM or something like that, that was their highest offer, so it made sense for me to go into the room. Plus I believed that I was supposed to earn what I put in for.
“When I was as confident as I was in my case, it was worth every penny to go into the hearing. Say if I thought I was worth $5.35MM and they were coming in offering me $5.1MM, then you have to start weighing your options. If they are offering you $5.1MM and then they drop it down and put their number at $4.4MM, you have to weigh your options and say, ‘Hey, I don’t know if $200K is worth the chance of losing a million,’ but we were never close. We were never close. I had a chance to lose $100K from where they offered me because we never got within $800K or $900K.
“Inside the room, it’s not them truly trying to put you down. It’s a business thing. My side is business and their side is business. They are trying to get me for a certain price and I’m trying to get my salary to a certain price. It’s not necessarily them telling you how bad you are, they are just trying to present a case to where they believe you should earn X instead of Y. I knew that going in. It didn’t bother me at all. It’s just a process, the business side of it. A lot of people would say, ‘Man, I didn’t know I was that bad’ or ‘I can’t believe they would say that about me,’ but you better prepare yourself to hear it because they will say it. It’s not to demise your character or not to put you down in any way, it’s just for them to present a case to win their case, just like we’re presenting a case to say I’m a little better than I actually am.
“I talked to my agents and they’ve been in many cases before and they prepared me the best they could. They have booklets and stuff and I had a book real thick of comparisons and charts and stuff. My agents did a great job of going over everything. Anything and everything you could find it was documented.
“It’s a crapshoot. There’s no guarantee. You can present the best case you can and still get beat. I still have a great relationship with the front office of the Marlins to this day. You have to understand as a player, they aren’t trying to personally attack you. They are trying to get their payroll at a certain point and that’s one of the ways they are trying to do it. It’s the business side of baseball.”