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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Salary Arbitration Update

There were four hearings set for today, and all proved to be unnecessary as settlements were finalized between Corey Hart and the Brewers, Conor Jackson and the Diamondbacks, Mike Jacobs and the Royals, and Josh Willingham and the Nationals. That leaves only the Atlanta Braves and both Jeff Francoeur and Kelly Johnson and Washington and Ryan Zimmerman left for this year. Of the 40 settled cases this year, we have the following results:

Multiyear deals - 11
Above the midpoint - 5
At the midpoint - 8
Below the midpoint - 16

The 11 multiyear deals are the most for the six year period of 2004-2009. There were 10 in both 2007 and 2008. There were 5 in 2004, 8 in 2005, and 7 in 2006. This is an interesting trend, and I will comment more about this at the end of the week. This really reduces the number of comparables that can be considered.


A deal was reached with Kelly Johnson to avoid arbitration earlier today. It's in the AJC:

Anonymous Oskie -- 2/18/2009 3:19 PM  

Thanks for the update on Kelly Johnson. I was so focused on today's group that I had not yet checked on the final three. The way things are going, we might be done with hearings. That would be interesting because the players have not won more hearings than teams since 1996.

Blogger Ed Edmonds -- 2/18/2009 3:59 PM  

The Braves settled with both Johnson and Francoeur at the midpoint. That leaves only Ryan Zimmerman. Even though I have seen reports stating that the hearing is scheduled for either Friday or Saturday, most of the recent reports reconfirm that the date is tomorrow.

Blogger Ed Edmonds -- 2/19/2009 9:37 AM  

With Jeff Franceur, the worst full-time outfielder in baseball, coming in at the halfway point (3.37 million), I am curious if this type of analysis of breaking players up into groups is appropriate.

Based upon skills, I would think that Francoeur would come in at "below the midpoint" but apparently the numbers already took his depressed value into account, which is why his deal was "at the midpoint." Does this make sense to you?

Blogger Paul -- 2/19/2009 3:54 PM  

If the parties had gone to a hearing and the panel had been convinced that Francouer was really at the bottom end of the comparable group of players with the same amount of playing time (Francouer is just over 3 years of credited service), the panel would accept the Braves number. Once settlements began early this week it seems to me that everyone lined up to settle around the midpoint.

The results of hearings can be unpredictable. Maybe I am a little sensitive this year because I am 0-3 in my predictions, but you can find many, many quotations from participants to that effect. So, I think in many instances both sides prefer to split the difference and avoid the acrimony of the hearing.

It is true that Francouer's home run numbers have dropped from his 2006 season and his batting average last season was .239 compared to .293 in 2007. His slugging percentage is down and his on base percentage last year was below .300. His strikeout totals are high. They sent him down to Mississippi (Southern League) in July. This is just a small sampling of what the Braves would have thrown at Francouer in a hearing. He did win a Gold Glove in 2007.

So, the single offer or final offer process is geared towards producing settlements. The Braves are 15-9 in all of the hearings in their history, so they have been willing to go to hearings. That said, they have not been to a hearing since 2001 with Andruw Jones, Kevin Millwood, and John Rocker. Now isn't that an interesting group? So, it has not been the recent trend for the Braves to roll the dice. Management really dislikes this system of arbitration. Often teams will show their displeasure by moving the player elsewhere.

I think that one way that you can read this is that both sides feel that a midpoint settlement is normative based on the statistics. My research does support that observation. Neither side is happy because they both feel that their number was defensible. If the Braves had really felt so strongly that the midpoint was a bad number, I think they should have gone to a hearing. With all things considered, like so many players and teams, they decided to settle.

Blogger Ed Edmonds -- 2/20/2009 8:45 AM  

That's great that they reached a deal. I wish that there was a site that posted all the salaries of these guys, like the way does for all the other professionals around the country.

Anonymous Salaries at Best Buy -- 3/17/2009 2:50 PM  

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