Salary arbitration has always fascinated me. Basically, two sides are trying to convince someone who probably has no advanced knowledge of baseball why a player should be paid a certain amount of money for the upcoming seasons. By all accounts, it’s a fairly irrational process.
That being said, there is a wrong way to argue an arbitration hearing, and that would be by comparing your client to Michael Jordan as Chien-Ming Wang’s agents did. The Yankees, during Wang’s arbitration case, compared him to other players making similar amounts with similar experience. They noted that his 19-win total was a bit inflated due to run support (what a concept) and admitted that he was worth what the Scott Kazmirs and Joe Blantons made at the same point in their careers.
Wang’s agents went a little overboard, Jon Heyman writes:
Wang’s reps emphasized his 19-win total two straight seasons. They also tried went a little nuts in the hearing room when they described him as “the Michael Jordan of Taiwan,” and actually produced a graphic depicting how the Taiwanese stock market fluctuated on days he pitched.
As the arbitrators ruled: Who cares about that?
MLB is a $6-billion business, with only about $3 million of that coming from Taiwan. Besides, Wang makes millions in endorsements in Taiwan, separate and apart from his Yankees salary. The Yankees pointed that out, and predictably, Wang suffered a tough loss.
In this case, I think Wang’s agents didn’t do a very good job arguing the case, and the arbitrator did an excellent job cutting to the heart of the matter. Wang is making what he should be making based on his performance on the field. Do the Yankees really care of the stock market in Taiwan goes up when Wang pitches? Only if they have a lot of money invested there.