Thursday, February 19, 2004

2004 Arbitration Scoreboard Complete 

And now it is complete. With Gagne's arbitration loss, and assuming Pujols and the Cardinals finalize their 7 year, $100 million dollar contract, the arbitration season is over.

26 players have filed for salary arbitration in 2004. Of those, seven actually went to arbitration with three winning. The winners wer David Eckstein, Jack Wilson, and A.J. Pierzynski. All middle-tier position players. The losers were Eric Gagne, Johan Santana, Chris Reitsma, and Nick Johnson: two stud pitchers, a rising closer, and an ex-Yankee bat. So we have learned that even the best pitchers are risky and should avoid arbitration as past performance of similar pitchers probably goes all over the place. Mediocre middle infielders and catchers should go to arbitration as they can point to their defensive skills. First basemen cannot.

Of those 19 players signing, 9 split right down the middle, 5 signed for above the midpoint and 5 for below the midpoint. Of the five who signed for more than the midpoint, only J.C. Romero did not receive a multiyear contract, so owners showed their saavy. If you are going to lose, get multiple years, which maybe turns those player wins into player losses long-term.

Its a small sample size, but it looks to me like Placido Polanco would have won his arbitration case, and made a mistake signing, and that most of those who signed were wise to do so, even if it was marked as a Signed/Lost.

Here is a summary of the 2004 arbitration filings, my predicted result, and the actual results, with links to stories with more information about their deals.

Player Team 2003 Salary 2004 Asked 2004 Offered DiffPredicted ResultActual Result
Kevin MillwoodPHI9,90012,50010,0002,500Loss (ERA up)Signed/Lost(1yr/$11M)
Albert PujolsSTL90010,5007,0003,500Win (Long-term Contract)Signed/Big Win(7yr/$100M)
Eric GagneLA5508,0005,0003,000Win(Cy Young)LOST
David OrtizBOS1,2505,0004,200750Loss(< 450 ABs)Signed/Split ($4.5875 + 50K for 525 ABs)
Placido PolancoPHI2,8754,5003,4001,100Loss(So will Split again)Signed/Split
Doug MientkiewiczMIN1,7503,6002,5001,100Win(OBP=.393)Signed/Won(2-yr/$7M + $3.35M option)
A.J. PierzynskiSF3653,5002,2501,250Win(OPS=824 for C)WON
Melvin MoraBAL1,7253,3002,400900Win(OPS>900)Signed/Won (3yr/$10.5M)
Vicente PadillaPHI4252,9502,350600Win(Consistent)Signed/Lost (2.6M is below midpoint)
Shea HillenbrandARI4082,8752,400475Loss(OBP <.320)Signed/Lost($2.6M)
Jay GibbonsBAL3752,8002,400400Win(780 OPS)Signed/Split
Gabe WhiteNYY3,3172,7001,825875Win(not that bad)Signed/Lost(1yr/$2.125 with club option for 2005)
Johan SantanaMIN3352,4501,600850Win(Flat Out Stud)LOST(bad yr for pitchers)
Darrell MayKC4502,2001,850350Win(K/BB improving)Signed/Won (2yr/$4,950)
David EcksteinANA4252,1501,600550Loss(.325 SLG,OBP)WON(big 2002, injured 2003?)
Shawn ChaconCOL3002,1001,650450Win(named closer)Signed/Split(1yr/$1.85M with closer 100K incentives)
Jack WilsonPIT3351,8501,400450Loss(or is Released!)WON(Pirates Mgmt is inept)
Guillermo MotaLA6751,7501,200550Win(Top reliever)Signed/Split
Kyle FarnsworthCHC6001,7001,100600Win(K/BB up)Signed/Split
Nick JohnsonMON3641,6801,250400Loss(<350 ABs 2 yrs)LOST
B.J. RyanBAL7631,5501,000550Loss(1BB / 2inn)Signed/Split
Chris ReitsmaCIN3501,450950500Win(saves overrated)LOST (not closer any longer?)
Jolbert CabreraLA4351,350850500PLAYER RELEASED(see Giovanni)Signed/Split ($1.1M w/$1.4M-2.4M Option)
Chad BradfordOAK3311,125850275Win(tough)Signed/Lost($965K)
J.C. RomeroMIN325925650275Loss(K/BB = 1)Signed/Won(1yr/820K)
Damian RollsTB300900700200Win(TB luck)Signed/Split

For comparison, here is a look at 2003, which was the year of the starting pitcher. In 2003, 42 players filed for salary arbitration, but only 7 players went to arbitration. Of those seven, only two players won - Mark Redman and Freddy Garcia. Amazingly, an arbiter decided that Freddy was worth 6.875M and not 5.9M while Carlos Beltran was given 6M instead of the 6.95M he asked for. Arbitration appears to be a bit of a crapshoot.

Interestingly, the salary gaps in 2004 are MUCH wider than in 2003. The average difference between owner and player is $1,000,000. In 2004, the average difference was around $440,000.
The top three requests are more than $2.5 million apart. In 2003, only Greg Maddux was separated by that much.
Take those three players out of the mix, and the average gap is still $700,000 while removing Maddux drops the 2003 average to $375,000, which could account for how few players actually went to arbitration.
In 2003, six players asked for $800,000 or more greater than the owners were willing to spend and that is the same as in 2004.
The main difference seems to be a great reduction in the number of filings that are $300,000 or less apart. 11 filed for this "pittance" in 2003 while only 3 in 2004.

Here's the full list for 2003...

Player Team 2002 Salary 2003 Asked 2003 Offered 2003 Salary Won/Lost/Sign
Greg MadduxATL13,10016,00013,50014,750Signed/Split
Javier VazquezMON4,7757,1506,0006,000Lost
Carlos BeltranKC3,5006,9006,0006,000Lost
Freddy GarciaSEA3,8006,8755,9006,875Won
Billy KochCHW2,4335,9004,2504,250Signed/Multiyear
Sidney PonsonBAL2,6504,7503,9004,250Signed/Lost
Kelvim EscobarTOR2,3004,6003,5003,900Signed/Multiyear
Orlando HernandezMON3,2004,5004,0004,100Signed/Lost
Jose JimenezCOL1,9383,9003,2003,600Signed/Won
Raul IbanezKC8003,4002,7503,000Signed/Lost
Terry AdamsPHI2,7003,3952,7002,900Signed/Lost
Placido PolancoPHI1,7503,2502,5002,875Signed/Split
Jacque JonesMIN3133,2002,7502,750Signed/Multiyear
A.J. BurnettFLA3683,0752,5002,500Lost
Mark RedmanFLA3002,1501,8002,150Won
Doug MientkiewiczMIN2852,0501,4501,750Signed/Split
Melvin MoraBAL3502,0001,4501,725Signed/Split
Julio LugoHOU3251,8001,5001,575Signed/Lost
Jerry HairstonBAL3001,8001,1501,550Signed/Won
Randall SimonPIT2901,8001,3001,475Signed/Lost
Vladamir NunezFLA3601,7501,4001,400Lost
Scott SchoenweisANA3251,5501,2501,425Signed/Won
Erubiel DurazoOAK3751,4009001,065Signed/Lost
Scott StricklandNYM3551,175875950Signed/Lost
Francisco CorderoTEX2781,175775900Signed/Lost
Ben DavisSEA3501,1258751,000Signed/Split
Giovanni CarraraLA360880725400RELEASED/OUCH
Joey EischenMON215875725750Signed/Lost
Bruce ChenCIN300830700700Lost
B.J. RyanBAL300825700762.5Signed/Split
Doug MirabelliBAL650950660805Signed/Split
Lou MerloniBOS290625450560Signed/Won
Dan ReichertTB265600450525Signed/Split

All of the arbitration request information came from Doug Pappas, SABR Business of Baseball Committee, and I highly recommend bookmarking his site since the only place I know of to get this kind of data.

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