Jan
05

Can the Yankees avoid arbitration with Gaudin, Mitre?

By

Today begins the filing period for salary arbitration hearings, which means the start of a tedious process for players and teams. Once a player files, he and the team must exchange figures by January 19 in anticipation of a February hearing. For the next month plus, teams and players will negotiate for what each considers a fair salary. If they reach no such agreement they present cases in front of an arbiter, who will then choose either the team’s or the player’s proposed salary. In other words, once you get to a hearing there’s no longer a chance for compromise. It’s either one or the other.

Partly because of this all or nothing nature, most cases never go to a hearing. In fact, as Craig Calcaterra notes, 90 percent settle. This has left, since the inception of arbitration in 1974, just 487 hearings, or about 14 per season. It seems like that number has come down in recent years, too, perhaps because of the imbalance in decisions. Teams have won 57 percent of hearings, and while that’s not a huge margin, it does give a player an incentive to settle.

(But at least it’s not as bad as corporate-consumer arbitration, which heavily favors one side.)

At MLB.com Anthony Castrovince describes the history of arbitration and how it has evolved since its inception in the early 70s. Back then it was a way to better reward players for their contributions while still preventing them from becoming free agents. Over the years, players continued to push the limits higher, gaining better and better compensation in arbitration. A handful of cases in each decade stand out, but none quite like Ryan Howard’s $10 million in 2008. The next year, arbitration eligible players received average raises of 172 percent. While free agent salaries trend downward, arbitration salaries continue to rise.

Given the perils of facing an arbitration hearing, chances are the Yankees will settle with both of their arbitration cases, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre. Neither pitcher had a standout 2009, and the Yankees will likely use that to their advantage in negotiations. Mitre’s poor statistics almost force him to settle. Gaudin and his agent will likely concentrate on his numbers while with the Yankees (42 IP, 3.43 ERA), so maybe he has more of a case. But given Gaudin’s 2009 salary, $2 million, and his season-long performance, I’m not sure he can expect too hefty a raise. This could keep the two parties’ proposals close together, making it easier to strike a compromise.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • Salty Buggah

    Gaudin and his agent will likely concentrate on his numbers while with the Yankees (42 IP, 3.43 ERA), so maybe he has more of a case.

    Not if the Yankees break out more advanced stats like FIP and tRA. Gaudin was terrible in those (and I’ve said many many times, he was even worse than Mitre).

    I doubt this would happen or Gaudin and his agent would give a crap anyway. But hey, it would be a cool way to save a little money.

    • andrew

      I rather have a pitcher with a great ERA and a lously FIP than a great FIP and a lousy ERA. I know that eventually these things are supposed to correct, but still, I think sometimes too much stock is put into things like FIP. The guy produced. It may have been lucky, but he still put up good numbers.At the time of the trade, our own Mike Axisa had this to say “He had a 5.13 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) with San Diego, but his FIP is a much prettier 3.68.”

      • Salty Buggah

        Well, if a pitcher outperformed his FIP significantly like Gaudin, I’d be ecstatic. But I would not rather have him going forward over a guy with a lower FIP.

        His FIP while in NY is ugly. So is his tRA.

  • Ed

    In other words, once you get to a hearing there’s no longer a chance for compromise. It’s either one or the other.

    Nitpick: The arbitrator can’t compromise. The player and team still can if they choose, right up until the arbitrator announces his decision.

    I’m blanking on who it was that did this, but a few years back there was a case where both sides presented their cases, then reached a compromise while the arbitrator was coming to a decision. In that case, the arbitrator never announced his decision.

    Teams have won 57 percent of hearings, and while that’s not a huge margin, it does give a player an incentive to settle.

    Not necessarily. You really have to look into the specific cases to put that number in context.

    Take Wang’s case, with his $4.6m vs $4m case. As Wang’s agent explained to the press afterwards, Wang was going to ask the team for less than $4m, but after the Yankees presented that number to his agent, obviously that raised the floor of the negotiations. That meant that in a worst case scenario, Wang would get more money than he was going to ask for.

    From the Yankees standpoint, they made a more than fair offer, and were not willing to raise it further, as that would just inflate salaries in future arbitration cases.

    From Wang’s standpoint, there was no disadvantage to asking for more money and pushing through to a hearing, as even if he lost, he’d make more money than he originally planned to ask for.

  • Ed

    Reading the article on MLB.com, there’s a flaw in it’s discussion on arbitration and free agents. It’s claiming free agents have a max 20% pay cut. That rule only applies to players under team control. It’s a little awkward to find, but the CBA does specifically say that the rule doesn’t apply to free agents.

    • Will

      That’s definitely the case and a major error in the article.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      Yeah, we’ve discussed this before: http://riveraveblues.com/2008/.....tion-5181/

      • Ed

        I remember that, but, that’s from 2008. Didn’t think many other people would remember.

    • vin

      Yeah, I had a hard time finding that in the CBA recently. I could only infer that it meant players under team control. It was clear as mud.

      Gaudin and Mitre serve an important purpose to the Yanks. Capable pitching depth, and in Gaudin’s case, that can be stashed in the ‘pen to be used as a long man, or against RHB.

      During the 2000s, only 1 team made it through the season with 5 starters (’03 Mariners) – most teams averaged about 11 pitchers per year.

      For discussion’s sake, you can chalk up 3 of the pitchers to September call-ups, or double-header scheduling dillemas. Which leaves teams with clearly needing 8 (mostly) viable starters.

      By my count, the top 10 starting options for the Yanks are:
      CC
      AJ
      Javy
      Andy
      Joba
      Phil
      Gaudin
      Mitre
      Aceves
      Nova

      I’d probably take the Yanks 8 best starters from that group over any other team’s.

      • Ed

        Yeah, I had a hard time finding that in the CBA recently. I could only infer that it meant players under team control. It was clear as mud.

        Took me a while to find it. Joe’s link in the post before yours has the relevant excerpt. I think every other reference uses the term arbitration, but this one uses “offer to arbitrate”, so it’s easy to miss when doing a search on the document.

      • Chris

        Looking at that 2003 Mariners team, I can’t believe that a pitcher can have a 3.9 K/9 rate, but still put up a 1.48 ERA. That just doesn’t seem possible.

        • king of fruitless hypotheticals

          sure it does–you just pitch lots of innings…you make it up in volume. big business does it all the time!

  • Will

    As for Mitre, the Yankees should not offer him a guaranteed major league contract. The best they should do is a minor league deal with an opt out by a certain date if he isn’t promoted.

    • jsbrendog

      does he have an option left? if so then it doesnt matter.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        No.

        • jsbrendog

          so then bullpen for mr mitre.

          wow, so then the bullpen will be mo, robertson, mitre, gaudin, aceves, hughes/joba, marte?

          wtf

          • Chris

            Does Gaudin have an option?

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

              I don’t think so.

              • jsbrendog

                talk about starters making good relievers jesus. i dont know how i feel about that pen.

        • A.D.

          Is there an easy place to see how many options a player has left?

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

            I wish.

    • Ed

      It’s too late for that, the non-tender date already passed. He’s already been tendered a major league contract.

      • Will

        That’s right…I keep forgetting that he is still under control.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

    Well, Mitre’s option was for $1.25M, and his salary last year was a prorated portion of $1.25M, which is about $718K according to my rough estimate.

    They wouldn’t have declined the option unless they were certain they could sign him for less than $1.25M, so maybe they settle in the middle around $980K.

    • Andy in Sunny Daytona

      Sign Mitre and then flip him back to the Marlins for Giancarlos Cruz-Stanton.

  • J.R.

    Realistically does anyone think that Mitre can stick out an entire year in the pen?

    Gaudin maybe as a swing man, but I can’t see the Yankees keeping him on the 25 all year with young arms like Melancon, Nova and Mcallister in AAA.

    • Chris

      It’s possible. He was barely a year removed from TJ surgery last year. With the extra time to recover, it’s possible that he’ll show better results.

  • viridiana

    Gaudin has a history of success for at least stretches of his career. He is also a strikeout pitcher, which suggests value in the pen. His ERA with the Yanks was very good, with SD not good. But even with SD, he had some outstanding performances. This is a guy who can help. And he has pitched well out of the pen before.

    As for Mitre, as best I can tell he is a total waste. No idea why he’s cluttering the roster.

  • Legend

    I thought Boone Logan was an arbitrations case as well???

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Archimedes Torquemada

      The fact that a dude named “Boone Logan” is now on our team makes me all the more anxious for Lost to return in a month.

      I hope our new young lefty pitcher doesn’t do something dangerous in Spring Training down in Tampa, like climbing into a plane that’s perched precariously up on a precipice.