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Article: Reliever Arbitration Salaries On The Rise?

dellin betances brian dozier jt chargois glen perkins brandon kintzler
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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 08:06 PM

Perhaps the biggest area of uncertainty when it comes to a baseball team's future financial obligations is arbitration salaries.

In some cases, teams will "buy out" a player's arbitration years by signing him to an extension in order to ensure cost certainty. The Twins saved themselves a good chunk of change by doing exactly that with Brian Dozier prior to the 2015 season, signing him to a four-year, $20M extension. Sometimes this strategy doesn't work out so well (see Singleton, Jon).We already know teams will delay calling up prospects in an effort to gain an extra year of team of control/delay a player's arbitration eligibility, but should they also make an effort to keep players affordable in their arbitration seasons? Are they already doing this?

Counting stats still weigh heavily in arbitration cases, and one of the biggest gaps in arbitration salaries is between relievers with saves and those without. A lot of Twins fans are holding out hope that J.T. Chargois can elevate himself to be the team's closer at some point in 2017. But if that were to happen, and Chargois spends something like two and a half seasons as a closer, he's going to be very expensive by the time he becomes arbitration eligible.

Brandon Kintzler is still in arbitration as well, so in terms of future salary considerations, Glen Perkins taking back over as closer would be the ideal scenario. The Twins have a $6.5M option on Perkins for 2018 whether he gets four saves or 40.

Even going forward from next year and beyond, this issue of whether or not to put a pre-arb or arb-elligible pitcher in the closer role will be interesting to follow.

Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Twins have a number of relievers in the minors who should be ready to make an impact soon. Will the team thrust one of them into the ninth inning, or opt to sign affordable vetetans to fill that role instead?

Maybe by then it's not going to matter.


The case of Betances v. Yankees

On Friday, there's a baseball player in Florida who is challenging the system. It's not at a spring training complex, but rather at an arbitration hearing.

Yankee reliever Dellin Betances became arbitration eligible for the first time this off season. He filed for $5 million, the team for $3 million. Often these differences are resolved and both parties agree to a salary somewhere in the middle (as the Twins did with all their arb guys), but not in this case. In an arbitration hearing, one side wins the other loses. There is no compromise in the middle.

Typically another team's arbitration case wouldn't garner even the faintest interest from me, but I've been looking forward to this one.

Having guys like David Robertson, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman around have made it pretty difficult for Betances to get saves. He has 22 of them over his career. It's clear by looking at his ERA and ratios that Betances is a rare bird no matter what inning he pitches, but those things don't typically play up in arbitration.

Back in 2014, Kenley Jansen asked the Dodgers for $5.05M in his first year of arbitration, they offered $3.5M. Jansen eventually agreed to a $4.3M contract. Given the similarities of 2014 Kenley Jansen and current day Betances, I'd say it's a good bet he could have gotten $4.3M.


But Betances has dug in his heels, and even delayed his arrival at spring training (with approval from the team) so he can prepare for and attend his hearing. If he wins, it could represent a victory for setup men and middle relievers across the league. There aren't many other pitchers on Betances' level, but a rising tide lifts all boats.

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#2 Tom Froemming

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 10:11 AM

In related news, O's reliever Brad Brach just won his arbitration hearing. He will get $3.05M, the team had filed $2.525M. This was only the second time Baltimore has lost in 13 arbitration hearings.

 

Brach has a 2.61 ERA over the past three seasons, but just three career saves to his credit. One thing that may have boosted his case is he has 22 wins over the past three years, including 10 a year ago. He was also an All Star. It may seem silly, but those things can factor into these arbitration decisions. 

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#3 zenser

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 10:54 AM

I thought I had read somewhere that the Yankess (and also other teams) try to exchange numbers and get deals worked out before the arbitration numbers need to be submitted but once they are submitted all talks end.

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#4 Thrylos

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 10:59 AM

 

In related news, O's reliever Brad Brach just won his arbitration hearing. He will get $3.05M, the team had filed $2.525M. This was only the second time Baltimore has lost in 13 arbitration hearings.

 

Brach has a 2.61 ERA over the past three seasons, but just three career saves to his credit. One thing that may have boosted his case is he has 22 wins over the past three years, including 10 a year ago. He was also an All Star. It may seem silly, but those things can factor into these arbitration decisions. 

 

The price for relievers has really risen.If you compare Brach's numbers to those of Belisle and Kintzer (other than saves, which is a worthless stat), you can see that Brach even at that $ is a huge bargain...

 

 

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#5 Tom Froemming

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 11:41 AM

 

I thought I had read somewhere that the Yankess (and also other teams) try to exchange numbers and get deals worked out before the arbitration numbers need to be submitted but once they are submitted all talks end.

 

Yes, you are correct in this case. Based on quotes from Brian Cashman in this New York Post article the Yankees did attempt to reach a compromise prior to numbers being formally exchanged, but once it was clear that wasn't going to happen they cut off talks.

 

“We’re not gonna reach a resolution with Dellin. The conversations we had with their representatives were: ‘If we file, we trial.’

 

“Based on all of our discussions, it was clear our different perspectives were at such a wide bridge, that we’ll go out and basically have a polite discussion about market value and history of where the marketplace sits versus attempts for a new market creation.”


#6 Tom Froemming

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 11:52 AM

 

The price for relievers has really risen.If you compare Brach's numbers to those of Belisle and Kintzer (other than saves, which is a worthless stat), you can see that Brach even at that $ is a huge bargain...

Agreed, that's still a really great deal for Baltimore. It's a shame arbitration panels haven't evolved in step with how statistical analysis has changed over the years.


#7 zenser

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Posted 17 February 2017 - 02:39 PM

I usually don't care too much about arbitration in general but I am really rooting for a guy like Betances.I enjoy watching him pitch.He is just down right nasty.I know he will get a big pay day when he hits free agency.I just think the 3 million the Yankees offered was low based on his production and what 3 million can get you in the open market.

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#8 Tom Froemming

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Posted 18 February 2017 - 10:41 AM

The Yankees won, per Jon Heyman on Twitter. Betances will get $3M this season, it seems even with the success of the Royals, and more recently Andrew Miller's incredible postseason, dominant middle relievers are not going to be properly valued through arbitration, while closers make beaucoup bucks.

 

Just a fun stat to throw out: Zach Britton, the best closer in baseball last year, entered either a tie game or a one-run game 24 times over 69 appearances (34.8 percent). Betances did that 37 times in 73 appearances (50.7 percent). Closers may throw the last inning, but it's not often the most important one. 

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#9 Rosterman

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Posted 18 February 2017 - 11:08 AM

This can be outrageous. Really. Which is why you draft and develop pitchers. But, what ever the market will bear. Those bench guys, too, are getting expensive...if you want predictable quality play.

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#10 Riverbrian

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Posted 19 February 2017 - 09:14 PM

 

 

I'm not sure what Randy Levine was thinking when he started speaking publicly afterwards... I can't imagine what his words accomplished for moving forward in a positive direction. 

 

He had to make the healing process much harder if not impossible and future retention more difficult. 

 

http://www.fangraphs...es-out-of-town/

 

In my opinion... Betances may have lost his arb case and only got 3 million but I'll bet any of those arbitrators 100 bucks that if the Yankees were to trade him right now... The Yankees would get more than 5 million in value back. 

 

What was Levine thinking... The kid just lost an arb case because of saves which he has no control over since the manager assigns the roles and now he's staring up at Chapman so he can't get saves for future arbitration and after you've kicked him in the teeth during the arb process... you take another shot at him publicly. 

 

This makes no sense to me at all on many levels. 

 

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#11 ashburyjohn

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Posted 20 February 2017 - 04:51 PM

This makes no sense to me at all on many levels. 

"Ah, but nothing personal, kid. It's a business."

 

/ "Kid? I turn 29 in a month."

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