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10 Potentially Awkward MLB Arbitration Cases

Eli GreenspanSenior Analyst IJanuary 28, 2015

10 Potentially Awkward MLB Arbitration Cases

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    Going through arbitration is probably the most difficult process as a front office and player. Both sides—the player reps and the team—present two figures and then argue to a third party why they think the player should earn that amount.

    The team is forced to argue negatives about the player under team control, making the point that he should earn less than he thinks he is owed. When the player is there, it can cool relations already hit by going through arbitration.

    The arbitration process began this week and will likely continue for the next several weeks if teams cannot come to an agreement.

    Let's take a look at 10 potentially awkward arbitration cases for teams.  

Matt Garza, Chicago Cubs

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    When figures were submitted for arbitration, Matt Garza requested $12.5 million, according to Bruce Levine, compared to the Cubs offer of $7.95 million. Garza was a force in the Cubs rotation at the end of the season and earned $5.95 million last year.

    The Cubs could make the argument that he is not due almost double after going 10-10, but his numbers are deceptive on the surface. 

    Garza was also subjected to trade rumors all season, and while he is two years from reaching free agency, he certainly wants his value acknowledged. 

    For the Cubs, keeping his price down does make him more valuable around the league if he is traded. 

    They will likely settle in the middle, as the Cubs' argument is stronger and he will still receive about a $3 million raise. 

Miguel Montero, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero posted a .282 batting average with 18 home runs and a .355 on-base percentage. He is proving to be a very valuable chip for the Diamondbacks and earned $3.2 million last season. 

    According to Nick Piecoro, Montero requested $6.8 million for the upcoming season while the Diamondbacks offered $5.4 million. Montero is certainly do for a raise and perhaps around $6.2 million is where they'll settle, but there are no guarantees as Montero proved to be one of the top catchers in the National League.

Dustin Moseley, San Diego Padres

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    After earning $900,000 last season, Moseley certainly is in line for a raise—but how much?

    Moseley went 3-10 with a 3.30 ERA and a K/BB of 64/36. He posted a 1.28 WHIP, which is very impressive, but the losses stick out like a sore thumb. 

    Moseley requested $2.55 million to the Padres' $1.5 million offer, according to Corey Brock. He only appeared in 20 games and it was by far his best season. If they go to arbitration, my money is on the Padres winning.

    It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Daniel Bard, Boston Red Sox

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    This one should not be a problem, but the Red Sox have a history of not dealing with relievers well (Jonathan Papelbon, ahem) but the semi-new regime should lock up arguably the most talented young pitcher they have stockpiled. 

    According to Sean McAdam, Bard requested $1.825 million compared to the Red Sox's $1.4 million offer. Bard qualifies for Super Two status, and was very impressive this past season—and since he has come in the majors, for that matter. 

    He has a strong case if it makes it that far, but I bet the Red Sox do what they can to keep him happy. 

Andrew Bailey, Boston Red Sox

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    Recently acquired closer Andrew Bailey and the Red Sox are pretty far off in their requests, with Bailey asking for $4.7 million and the Red Sox offering $3.35 million, also from McAdam.

    Neither side has any history with each other, but the Red Sox did unload a lot for Bailey and do not want to upset him by arguing that he does not deserve a raise.

    He made less than $500,000 as one of the best closers in the league. He is certainly in line for the raise, but it is possible the Red Sox will argue that the raise should be less than what Bailey requested. 

Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

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    Adam Jones and the Orioles appear to be on divergent paths.

    The Orioles appear content with going year-to-year with him, and Jones appears destined to hit the free-agent market in a few years.

    Jones requested $7.4 million and the Orioles offered $5 million, according to Jon Heyman. They may settle in the middle, but they should go for the long-term deal because if they don't now, and Jones does not back down from his offer, it could make for an incredibly uncomfortable arbitration hearing.     

Russell Martin, New York Yankees

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    Russell Martin has some leverage now that Jesus Montero is gone.

    While he only hit .237 with 18 home runs and a .324 OBP, he was an All-Star and handled the Yankees' pitching staff exceptionally.

    Martin made $4 million last season and is line for a raise, even though some statistical categories took a hit. He appeared in 125 games, and for his first season in the AL East he handled it better than expected.

    Heyman reports that Martin requested $8.2 million and the Yankees offered $7 million. It is possible they work out a short-term deal. 

Jeremy Guthrie, Baltimore Orioles

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    Jeremy Guthrie has proven to be an innings eater over the past few years with the Orioles, hitting at least 190 innings the past four seasons. 

    Guthrie has gone 40-60 over the past four seasons, most recently posting a 9-17 record.

    Heyman says that Guthrie requested $10.25 million to the Orioles' offer of $7.25 million. 

    The Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates are in similar positions. They have (or, for the Pirates, had) solid pitchers who could not get run support at all. They would post mediocre records like Guthrie but have the talent to be valuable pitchers on better teams.

    The Orioles may try to argue their case because $3 million is a lot for the payroll, but it is possible they can find some middle ground.

Mike Napoli, Texas Rangers

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    Rangers catcher Mike Napoli requested $11.5 million, according to Heyman, after having a monster year with the Rangers, hitting .320 with 30 home runs and 75 RBI with 72 runs.

    He helped lead the team to the World Series and was one of their biggest contributors down the stretch.

    The Rangers offered $8.3 million, but will likely raise their offer because they will have a tough time arguing to arbitration that Napoli is worth any less than he thinks.

Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

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    Tim Lincecum has been one of the most dominant pitchers in the NL over the past three seasons. He requested $21.5 million to the Giants' $17 million offer, according to Heyman.

    Despite going 13-14 this past season, he posted a 2.74 ERA and 220 strikeouts to 86 walks.

    They may end up going to arbitration, but if the Giants want to keep him around long-term, they better bump their initial offer because Lincecum is content going year-to-year until he reaches free agency.   

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