January 19, 2012 by Matt Musico
With the arbitration deadline coming and going this week, some Major League organizations were scrambling to agree to deals with their young superstars in an effort to avoid further negotiations, allowing a third party to make the decision on the player’s 2012 salary. The hearings for players that were unable to reach an agreement with their respective team will be able to present their case at a hearing during the first three weeks or February.
While there are countless players who will be taking their team to an arbitration hearing, there were a lot of big names that came to an agreement in the 12th hour of negotiations. Some of these big names include:
- Pablo Sandoval agreed to a three-year/$17.15 million extension with the Giants.
- Cole Hamels and the Phillies finalized a one-year/$15 million deal.
- Jacoby Ellsbury was able to leverage his career year and comeback player of the year honors to get a one-year/$8.05 million deal with Boston.
- Andre Ethier decided to forgo his arbitration hearing after agreeing to a one-year/$10.95 million deal with the Dodgers. James Loney took a one-year/$6.375 million contract with Los Angeles as well.
- Francisco Rodriguez took a one-year/$8 million deal with the Brewers, even though they have John Axford solidified as the closer.
- Mike Pelfrey took a raise in pay from the Mets even though he had a mediocre year at best, earning $5.68 million in 2012.
- The Tampa Bay Rays agreed to terms with David Price and B.J. Upton, for $4.5 million and $7 million, respectively, for next season.
The two biggest names that remain without a contract for 2012 and will be taking their teams to the arbitration table are: Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw. The Giants starter got offered $17 million by San Francisco, but he’s asking for $21.5 million next year; Kershaw, who just won the 2011 NL Cy Young award, is asking for $10 million, while the Dodgers are offering their ace pitcher $6 million. Are either one of these stars worth the money they’re asking? Let’s take a look at their resumes.
“The Freak” has taken the Giants to arbitration in the past and has come out victorious, mostly because he’s got a pretty good resume to present. At the tender age of 27 and five years of MLB service, he is the unquestioned ace of the San Francisco Giants, while compiling these statistics:
69-41 record, 2.98 ERA, 1028 innings pitched, 1127 strikeouts, 1.188 WHIP
In addition to that, throw in the fact that he’s led the league in strikeouts three times, won two Cy Young awards in a row, has been voted to the All-Star game four times, and was a key component to the Giants winning the 2010 World Series. It’s obvious that Lincecum and his agent are basing his asking price off of other elite pitchers in the league right now, such as CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, etc. I have a feeling that Lincecum is more likely to be awarded his figure than the figure the Giants have offered.
Next up: Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. After winning both the NL Cy Young award and the pitcher’s triple crown in 2011 while earning only $500K, Los Angeles was well aware that their ace would be asking a steep price for 2012. However, they obviously didn’t think the amount would be as high as it is. Kershaw and his camp are asking for $10 million, while LA is offering $6 million. Now, is he worth it? His resume isn’t as extensive as Lincecum’s since he is only 23 years old, but it’s nothing to sneeze at either:
47-28 record, 2.88 ERA, 716.1 innings pitched, 745 strikeouts, 1.173 WHIP
Since he has become a full-time starter in 2009, he has started over 30 games each year, while holding an ERA under 3.00. In addition to winning the Cy Young in 2011, he was also named to his first All-Star team and won his first Gold Glove award. Kershaw has a solid case to bring to his hearing, but since he didn’t become a big time star until this past year, I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t receive what he’s asking for.
Arbitration hearings can be tricky; I obviously have never been in one, but I’ve heard stories about how it can feel degrading because the organization that a player loves and is playing his heart out for, brings a case against him to prove to the decision maker that he is not worth the money he is asking. It’s important for players that enter those hearings to forgive and forget because if they carry those negative comments about their ability with them into the next season, it could hurt their performance. That’s why so many teams would rather not go to arbitration and there is such a flurry right before the deadline; they don’t want to have to stand in front of their player, who could be a rising star and major contributor in the coming years, and tell a third party why they aren’t worth the money they are asking for.
Nonetheless, Lincecum and Kershaw have decided against agreeing before the deadline, so let’s see who comes out on top in February.
Category Sports | Tags: Andre Ethier, baseball, Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels, Francisco Rodriguez, Jacoby Ellsbury, James Loney, MLB hot stove, Pablo Sandoval, players avoid arbitration, Sports, Tim Lincecum