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Thursday, February 12, 2009
Uggla Wins in Arbitration - Ankiel at Bat Today

Dan Uggla’s arbitration hearing was held yesterday in Phoenix, and I just read that he won. The Marlins offered $4,400,000, and Uggla countered with a request for $5,350,000. The midpoint is $4,875,000, and the difference between the two exchanged figures is $950,000. Uggla was paid $417,000 for the 2008 season. Uggla was eligible for arbitration for the first time this year, and he has 3.0 years of credited service.

The panel consisted of Richard Bloch, Frederic Horowitz, and Stephen Wolf. According to my research Richard Bloch, an experienced and veteran baseball salary arbitrator, has a 19-5 record in favor of teams. Fredric Horowitz has a 1-1 record based on his finding in favor of Shawn Hill this year and as a member of the Mark Loretta panel last year that was decided in favor of the Astros. Stephen Wolf has a 4-3 record in favor of teams after his panel voted in favor of the Rays against Dioner Navarro recently. So now that makes Bloch 19-6 for teams, Horowitz 2-1 for teams, and Wolf is even at 4-4.

Uggla has averaged 30 home runs and 90 RBIs in his three years in the National League, and he has been the topic of trade talks most of this off-season. The Marlins have Emilio Bonifacio, who came to Florida with pitcher P.J. Dean and infielder Jake Smolinski in a deal with Washington for pitcher Scott Olsen and outfielder Josh Willingham, who put in significant time in the minors at catcher. Olsen just settled this week with the Nationals and Willingham is slated for a hearing next Wednesday. I would suggest that Uggla will not be with the Marlins next year based upon the trade rumors and the general history of players going to arbitration often being moved to another team by the next year. I have not conducted much analysis of my data about the actual empirical work to support or disprove that basic question. That is work for another day, I guess. However, of the eight hearings last year, it was an even split with Brian Fuentas, Felipe Lopez, Mark Loretta, and Francisco Rodriguez changing teams. Ryan Howard, Oliver Perez, Jose Valverde, and Chien-Ming Wang are still with their same clubs heading into spring training.

Let’s look for a second at the middle infielders of the Phillies. Chase Utley avoided his first year of arbitration eligibility as well as a number of free agency years by signing a 7-year, $85,000,000 deal covering 2007-2013. Therefore, the multiyear deal number of $7,500,000 for 2008 and $11,000,000 for 2009 is not a good comparable data set. A few years ago, Jimmy Rollins moved from $450,000 in 2003 to $2,425,000 in 2004, his first year of arbitration eligibility. The following year he moved to $3,850,000 in base salary before finally landing a multiyear deal in 2006. Rollins hit 30 home runs and drove in 94 runs in his MVP season of 2007.

Would you want to consider Kelly Johnson in this discussion. He has not reached an agreement on his request for $3,300,000 against a Braves offer of $2,350,000. Brandon Phillips has more service time than Uggla. He signed a 4-year, $27,000,000 deal with the Reds covering 2008-2011. Rickie Weeks just agreed to a 1-year deal at $2,450,000. He does not have the power numbers of Uggla, but he is in the same service group as Uggla. I was leaning against Uggla winning his number, so you can mark me down as 0-3. With the Marlins losing this case, I will predict a quicker departure from Florida. But my predictive capability this year puts me in the cellar.

Rick Ankiel of the Cardinals should be conducting his hearing today. He wants $3,300,000 and the Cards offered $2,350,000. The midpoint is $2,825,000, and the difference is the same amount as Uggla's - $950,000. I have also been leaning toward the Cardinals, but maybe I should regroup on this one.


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