Arbitration season in Major League Baseball officially began this week with the eligible players filing for the same back on Tuesday. In all, 146 players filed for arbitration. With 30 MLB clubs, that works out to an average of nearly five players per team. Following a trade and some other transactions, the Brewers came in beneath the average with just two players: pitcher Marco Estrada and corner infielder Juan Francisco.
Following Tuesday’s filing deadline was a deadline of Friday at noon CT before official figures would need to be exchanged between Estrada, Francisco and the Brewers.
It was reported earlier this week that the Brewers were optimistic about avoiding the exchange of salary amounts. To do that meant agreeing on at least a one-year contract with both Estrada and Francisco before noon Friday.
That work got done and it was formally announced just after noon that both deals were signed.
Joel Sherman tweeted the following contract figures for both players.
#Brewers avoid arb with Marco Estrada ( $3,325M, $100,000 available in IP bonuses), Juan Francisco ($1.35M).
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 17, 2014
Marco Estrada: $3.325 million base salary with $100 thousand in available bonuses based on innings pitched.
Juan Francisco: $1.35 million base.
Tom Haudricourt then added information about Francisco saying that he too had available incentives, but didn’t specify for what nor how lucrative they are.
The Milwaukee Brewers entered this week with just a handful of players eligible for arbitration.
As individually chronicled, both Carlos Gomez and John Axford agreed to one-year contracts already. Then word was spread that the other two remaining potential arbitration cases were resolved by way of one-year deals as well.
Those deals now belong to Marco Estrada and new relief pitcher Burke Badenhop.
Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel tweeted the specific contract details for both men.
— Tom (@Haudricourt) January 18, 2013
Estrada made $486,000 in his final year of pre-arbitration salary. As discussed in the previously linked Axford article, the first year of arbitration eligibility results in a significant jump in compensation. Estrada will make just over four times as much in 2013 as he did last season. Part of that reflects the change in his role to full-fledged rotation member.
Badenhop’s situation can be a tricky one at times. Eligible for arbitration, new team who hasn’t seen you firsthand. Often these cases (like Jose Veras last year) go all the way to a hearing. Fortunately, Badenhop is more realistic about his value and got this out of the way. He is now free to focus solely on physical and mental preparation for the season without the annoyance of legal proceedings distracting him from those efforts.
As a third-time eligible player after being a Super 2 following the 2010 season with the Florida Marlins, Badenhop gets a raise over his $1.075 million salary in 2012.
Congratulations to all involved. To both sides for agreeing to fair figures, the players for getting raises and wanting to avoid distraction, and the club for retaining two valuable pieces at acceptable prices.
The agents for Brewers closer John Axford, the Beverly Hills Sports Council, tweeted just now that Axford and the team have agreed to terms on a one-year deal avoiding arbitration.
— BHSC (@BHSCouncil) January 18, 2013
The dollar amount should not come as a surprise if you know how contracts and the arbitration process work in Major League Baseball. As a dominant closer in 2011 and an effective one for the majority of 2012, Axford was set for a significant raise over his $525,000 salary. Closers may not be things, but they certainly are paid different than others in the bullpen. Axford has proven worthy of a $5 million salary and then some.
As a “Super 2” player, Axford was eligible for arbitration for the first time this year. The jump from team-controlled compensation to that of a potentially arbitrated one is the most impactful in terms of increase to the player and affect on a team’s budget.
Congratulations to Axford and here’s to a great season!
For his part, Axford was noticeably pleased by the resolution of the situation.
BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! So pumped right now! #ILoveMilwaukee
— John Axford (@JohnAxford) January 18, 2013
The Brewers announced this evening that they have avoided arbitration with outfielder Carlos Gomez by agreeing to terms on a one-year contract.
It’s the second bit of news regarding Gomez today as he was officially named as a member of the Dominican Republic’s World Baseball Classic roster earlier this afternoon.
Brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy later tweeted out the value of the deal which is $4.3 million. The team doesn’t directly comment on the values of their contracts.
This contract, as with nearly every single arbitration-avoiding contract, represents a raise for Gomez. He made $1,962,000 in 2012 according to Baseball-Reference.com. As this is Gomez’ fourth time being eligible for arbitration, a significant jump had to be expected.
Gomez agreeing leaves three Brewers still eligible for arbitration.
- John Axford
- Burke Badenhop
- Marco Estrada
Narveson, 31, is coming off a season mostly loss due to injury. He made only two starts, leaving the second after only 4.0 innings pitched after giving up five runs.
He is eligible for arbitration for the first time and after a year like he had, there wasn’t exactly a whole lot of leverage on his side so a deal was probably worked out fairly easily.
Even if healthy, Narveson is not guaranteed a spot in the rotation in 2013 for Milwaukee (though I have him solidly projected there) because of an influx of youthful options including Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg, Mark Rogers, and last year’s standout Mike Fiers.
Financial terms of the one-year pact were not immediately announced.
***UPDATE: Narveson’s deal is valued at $840,000 for the one season.***
The Brewers have four players remaining who are eligible for arbitration.
- John Axford (1st time, Super 2 so three more remain)
- Burke Badenhop (3rd time, was a Super 2 so one more remains)
- Marco Estrada (1st time, two remain)
- Carlos Gomez (4th/final time, was a Super 2)
Last night, MLB.com’s Brewers beat writer Adam McCalvy tweeted that Jose Veras had elected free agency following his removal from the team’s 40-man roster by way of an outrighting to the minor leagues.
This confused me a little bit because despite Veras’ propensity to walk batters (40 in 2012 in 67.0 IP for a BB/9 rate of 5.4) and his maddening inability at times to retire the first batter he faced upon entering a game, he pitched very strongly down the stretch in terms of runs allowed (14 September appearances, zero runs). That, to me, means that he must have at least a sliver of trade value despite the market for relief pitchers being kind of inundated with arms already.
Shortly after, McCalvy clarified his tweet with additional information which stated that Veras’ agent indicated that the veteran bullpen pitcher was, indeed, outrighted and was planning on electing free agency should he clear waivers.
Basically that means that the Brewers are still within the standard time frame of the waiver process which could allow them to trade Veras for some kind of small return. Hopefully a team in need of a middle reliever will give up something of value, though I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting much.
Veras was due for a raise as he is eligible for salary arbitration this off-season. He made a reported $2 million for the 2012 season. So, while the Brewers could technically re-sign Veras as a free agent, if they weren’t willing to negotiate against he production/comps/previous salary, it’s unlikely that they’d be able to reach what he would deem to be an acceptable contract.
He finishes his tour in Milwaukee with a 5-4 record, 1 Save, and 79 strikeouts, while surrendering 61 hits, 29 runs (27 of which were earned), and allowing five home runs and 40 walks in 67.0 innings pitched over 72 appearances.
The service time cutoff for players who would be eligible for salary arbitration under the “Super 2” designation was announced today. As expected, Lucroy fell days short of meeting the requirement.
You may say “So what? Luc just signed a five-year contract so he’s not arbitration eligible anyway.” You’d be factually correct, should you say this, but that’s also not the entirety of the situation.
In the negotiations regarding Lucroy’s extension a stipulation was put in place to compensate Lucroy if he wound up qualifying for Super 2 status. The stipulation stated that Lucroy would be paid an additional $2 million.
They put that language in the contract because players achieving Super 2 status earn more money during the first six years of team control. As Lucroy was giving up that opportunity should he have qualified, the extra money was there to help make up the difference in what he might have made in the additional year of arbitration eligibility.
The bottom line here is the contract extension will pay Lucroy $11 million instead of $13 million. I’m sure it’s a bit of a bummer for Luc, but it’s the way the system works right now.
The silver lining from a team perspective though is that they now have an additional $2 million in the 2013 budget.
By: Big Rygg
Corey Hart apparently has a pretty high opinion of himself.
I mean…he’d have to, right? Hart’s numbers have gone down each of the last two years (the second of which was his first year of arbitration eligibility) after a very good 2007 in which he posted a line of .295/.353/.539 with 24 home runs, 81 RBI, 23 stolen bases, 86 runs scored, all in 505 at-bats. Coupled with the first half of 2008, and a strong voting campaign courtesy of the Milwaukee Brewers, Hart was rewarded with a trip to the All-Star Game in Yankee Stadium.
Certain numbers did go up in 2008 (strikeouts, double plays grounded into) but the full season line ended up as .268/.300/.459 with only 20 home runs, a drop of four. In 107 more at-bats in 2008, Hart somehow walked nine fewer times (36 to 27) than the year before. He also scored 10 fewer runs (76) and didn’t increase his stolen bases at all.
Despite all of that information and more, Hart was still handsomely rewarded in his first year of arbitration to the tune of $3.25 million. It made sense that Hart would receive a big raise. After all, that’s how the arbitration process works; specifically assuring a player gets a significant jump in pay in their first year of eligibility is the unwritten rule.
If one were to go back and look at some of the details, however, one could notice a bad omen. Hart took until the 11th hour to agree to a one-year deal and avoid the dreaded arbitration hearing. It would have been the first for Doug Melvin’s staff since he was handed the general manager reigns of the Brewers.
Instead, a $1.1 million gap was bridged and a deal was struck between Hart and the front office at the middle of the exchanged figures of $3.8 million and $2.7 million. The Brewers’ starting right fielder reported to spring training and got to work. The $3.8 million figure that was submitted by Hart’s team was questionable at the time but eventually both sides decided that meeting halfway made the most sense (as it usually does).
Given that a $1.1 million gap was able to be figured out, it would stand to reason that a smaller difference would be easier to compromise on. That hasn’t been the case at all so far this offseason. The $650 thousand gap between the $4.8 million submitted by Hart and the $4.15 million turned in by the Brewers this year seems relatively simple. Compromise at or near $4.475 million and get on with the business of playing ball.
By all accounts, however, the current expanse appears more Grand Canyon-esque than before.
Teddy Werner is dealing with the Hart impasse as the Brewers’ negotiator. He has said that at some point you just have to start preparing your case because the efforts to get an agreement signed have failed. Werner has gone on record as saying that “barring a drastic change in the landscape, we’re probably going down to Tampa in a few weeks.” Tampa is where the arbitration hearings are being held this year.
Any fan that has heard discussion about arbitration hearings knows that they are rumored to be quite nasty. The player’s representation pumps the him up and attempts to make him look like the next coming of Albert Pujols. The team, conversely, basically points out every flaw, blemish, hiccup, zit, pock mark, scar…heck, they’d probably point out his razor burn if they thought it would get the panel of arbiters to rule in favor of the organization.
And Corey Hart? He has his fair share of issues to point out.
What I want to get to in this article, though, is whether Hart is worth it. I don’t just mean whether he’s worth $4.8 million, though I’ll get to that as well (hint: he’s not). I mean whether or not a guy with good upside that has shown his ability to put it all together in the past is worth this hassle.
Is it worth the team’s time and Hart’s time away from the rest of the team to fly to Tampa, Florida to argue? Does it make sense for the team to tear down a young and still potentially important piece to the franchise’s success?
Hart’s production declined again from 2008 to 2009. There was some time missed for an emergency appendectomy, but Hart really wasn’t ever hitting the ball all that well to begin with. With as poorly as he played, I didn’t even expect the figure that the team submitted to begin with a four. When the team put a $4.125 million number on record, I thought it extremely fair. I also think that the team only went that high after it had gotten the impression that Hart felt he was much closer to $5 million in value than $4 million.
They didn’t want to lose all chance at winning by coming in too low. That’s an unfortunate reality with the structure of the system that the Brewers were trying to head off at the pass. Also with some of Hart’s comparables getting around or above the same $4.8 million amount which Hart’s team submitted, it’s not a stretch to think that even though Hart played as poorly as he did that he’d actually win this case.
His team is playing hardball, plain and simple.
This all goes back to the observation at the beginning of this article. If Hart didn’t think so highly of his supposed talent, assumed ability and potential rebound, there’s no way he would let a relatively palatable gap blow his relationship with the Brewers sky high.
Then again, it was Hart that ripped on Milwaukee fans in the media and then feebily tried to backtrack by clarifying the intent behind his words. His plan could very well be to maximize his earnings during arbitration because he’s just going to bolt town when the time comes anyway. My contention is that if he’s not careful, he might be buying his way out of town before he’s contractually allowed to leave on his own.
I say that plainly because Corey Hart isn’t worth it.
Care for some reasons I feel that way? Alright.
- We can get similar production from a veteran for less money which adds to flexibility in payroll and there are plenty of veterans available to choose from.
- Hart has trade value and could be moved either alone or as part of a package to bring back a player that the Brewers couldn’t as easily replace with a veteran free agent or from within. Something like a starting pitcher leaps to mind.
- There are a couple of good outfield prospects in our system that might be ready to break into the majors. With an available spot on the 25-man roster, they might get that opportunity sooner thereby contributing to the success of the parent club sooner.
The bottom line in this situation is that unless Hart rebounds in a big way in terms of production, he isn’t worth the money that he’s going to make next year or in his final year of arbitration.
I’ll say this: His value is down right now, but if he plays well enough over the first half of 2010, I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see him moved at the deadline as the Brewers bring in some help for the balance of the season.
After all, value is in the eye of the beholder. Hart’s eye is delivering a bit more slanted of a view right now. If the Brewers can find another GM that feels the same way, why not maxmize the return on your investment by getting a player back that may help out more down the road than Corey Hart will be capable of doing in 2011.
By: Big Rygg
Plenty to talk about as I roll out a new title here. When I have several things to discuss and I choose to put them in one post instead of several, it’ll be called “Quick Hops” as I hop from topic to topic. Oh, and if you don’t know, hops are an ingredient in beer…and the team is the Brewers…I hope you’re following me.
Anyway, let’s get to it!
Non-Tender Choices Add Intrigue to Spring Training
The Milwaukee Brewers chose not to tender contracts to injured relief pitcher Mark DiFelice, pitcher Seth McClung and catcher Mike Rivera. This makes the three men free agents, able to sign a contract with any team. Feel free to skip the next two paragraphs if you understand the arbitration system and what the meaning of the non-tender is.
The system that is in place in Major League Baseball allows for a team to “control” a player for six seasons of service time (in the majority of cases). During the first three years of team control (again, in most cases) the team has 100% control over what they pay a player provided that the salary is at least as much as the league-mandated minimum. Typically teams negotiate salaries with players on a year-to-year basis anyway in an effort to involve the player in their money-dealings, but the team has the final say if they and the player cannot reach an accord. If that happens, then the team “renews” the player’s contract at whatever number they deem fair. This can upset players greatly if they feel they outperformed a certain level of pay with their level of play. Prince Fielder is the Brewers’ most recent example of that situation when, after becoming the youngest player in the history of the league to slug 50 home runs in a single season, he felt he was deserving of much more than the contract that he was offered. The two sides couldn’t reach an agreement, so the team renewed Fielder’s contract at a rate that was in line with their team’s pay scale for non-arbitration eligible players.
Being eligible for arbitration is what leads to the non-tendering of contracts if it’s going to happen. When a player becomes eligible for arbitration, salary is no longer completely up to the team. There are a lot of details that I could bore you with, but the basics are that the team and player negotiate to reach a salary for the upcoming year. If the two sides cannot agree on a number by a certain, pre-determined date then they exchange figures. These figures are those that they will submit to a salary arbiter before the season begins. Arbitration hearings are scheduled over a few days in the spring. The team and player can continue to negotiate up to the beginning of the hearing to reach an agreement. If they do, great. The player signs the contract and plays under its terms. If they don’t, a three-member arbitration panel hears the case and chooses one of the figures the sides submitted several weeks prior. (To note: During Doug Melvin’s tenure as General Manager of the Brewers, no player has gone to a hearing.)
Now, the reason that arbitration eligibility can lead to a non-tender is because the contracts a player gets go up in value significantly during arbitration. The jump in salary in the first year of eligibility is often a multi-million dollar one. What’s more, is that arbitration salaries are often influenced simply by service time itself more so than performance. For example, former Brewer J.J. Hardy made around $4MM in 2009. His 2009 season was terrible. It was terrible statistically and it was terrible peripherally. Hardy is not worthy of even the same salary let alone an increase in salary. However, with the system that’s in place, it is an unbelievable rarity that a player’s salary goes lower.
To summarize this entire Hop, allow me to say this: While Mark DiFelice was non-tendered under the rare case where he wasn’t arbitration eligible (he had shoulder surgery which will most likely cost him his entire 2010 season), the increases in salary that McClung and Rivera (who is eligible for arbitration for the first time) stand to receive are more than the Brewers want to pay for those positions for next year. McClung might have been a combination of high-salary/low-performance with the adding of LaTroy Hawkins and needed a spot on the 40-man roster for him, but most likely they could’ve kept McClung anyway with the injury to DiFelice. As for Mike Rivera, the Brewers are finally able to move on from the career backup. Rivera has been a servicable backup backstop during his time with this franchise however he has never been the future at the catcher position. The Brewers knew this when Damian Miller retired and they brought in Jason Kendall for the last two years with Rivera backing him up. Finally, however, the Brewers feel that they have talent at the position in the minor leagues such that they can promote from within and, with a season or two of tutelage at the Major League level, have a home-grown starting catcher for the first time since Mike Matheny.
This should make for a fun battle to watch during Spring Training. The Brewers have two catchers that might be ready to make the jump. Angel Salome has been the most talked about catching prospect in the system for a couple of years now, especially when he put up such gaudy offensive numbers as part of that stacked AA Huntsville club from two seasons ago that included Alcides Escobar, Mat Gamel, Matt LaPorta and others. He was the starting catcher for AAA Nashville last year. The catching prospect that has gotten the most talk lately, howevere, has been Jonathan Lucroy who was the starting catcher for Huntsville in 2009. The consensus seems to be that Lucroy might be more ready for the big leagues now with his better plate discipline and what not, but that Salome’s ceiling might still be higher. The Brewers did also claim George Kottaras on waivers early in the off-season as well, so if both youngsters are unable to show anything in spring training that wins them the job, Kottaras might end up being the defacto big league backup while the kids get some more seasoning down on the farm.
Any way it ends up, it ought to be a fun ride. Stay tuned.
The Craigger Set to Stay Put, Announcement to Come Monday?
Monday is shaping up to be a big day for Doug Melvin’s staff. The reports from Indianapolis at the Winter Meetings this past Monday through Thursday were that free-agent pitcher Randy Wolf would be announced to the media as the Brewers’ latest acquisition this coming Monday after passing his required physical examination.
The Brewers, though, just might have two names to announce on Monday. While free-agent signee LaTroy Hawkins was rumored to be announced this coming Tuesday, veteran infielder and team leader Craig Counsell has reportedly agreed to stay in Milwaukee for what might be the balance of his career.
I couldn’t be happier about this move. Even if Counsell doesn’t duplicate his offensive production from 2009, his ability to play three infield positions very well defensively is a huge asset to this team. With inexperienced (at the major league level) starters at SS and 3B in Escobar and Casey McGehee respectively along with Rickie Weeks one bat waggle away from season-ending surgery, having Counsell to spell all three positions is as invaluable for 2010 as having him has proven to be over the past couple of years as well.
Welcome back, Craigger! The Brewer Nation is glad you never left.
Rumor Burner Stays Warm on Hot Stove
Doug Melvin has made no bones about his desire to add two starting pitchers during this off-season. Signing Randy Wolf to a free agent contract gives him one. Where the second one comes from has been a matter of some opinion.
There are still plenty of free agents on the market to be sure. Given the Brewers’ projected payroll, some of them are out of the team’s price range. However, there are several that can be had for a reasonable rate that have great chances to put up better numbers than most members of the Crew’s 2009 starting rotation. In this realm, names like Doug Davis, Jon Garland, Erik Bedard, Justin Duchscherer, Wisconsin-native Jarrod Washburn and the recently non-tendered Chien-Mien Wang to name a few.
Pulling off a trade is another possibility that is open to Melvin et al. The Brewers still have a handful of trade chips that they can deal to interested teams to get a starting pitcher in return. It’s all about making something work for all teams involved. The biggest rumor that has been floating around since the Winter Meetings is a trade involving the New York Mets which would send Corey Hart to the Big Apple in exchange for John Maine. This makes sense for a couple of different reasons for both teams, but the biggest thing for Milwaukee’s point of view is that it gets us another starting pitcher. It also relieves us of Corey Hart and his waning value. He performed poorly last year but has had recent success and could still have plenty of upside. Maine has worked with new Brewer pitching coach Rick Peterson before when Peterson was in the same role with the Mets. The pairing led to Maine’s best season as a pro so it’s reasonable that it could produce positive results should the two be reunited in Milwaukee.
The Brewers are rumored to be preparing for this possible trade by readying offers to a handful of right fielders. They haven’t offered contracts to any of them yet, of course, because Corey Hart is still on the roster and would start in right field is no move is made. However, I have been told that guys such as Austin Kearns, Xavier Nady and recent 2009 Brewer Frank Catalanotto (who has one of the best batter walkup tunes EVER!). It’ll be interesting to see if the Brewers need to make an offer to one of these players or to another outfielder altogether. Even if they keep Hart, they carried five outfielders for the majority of 2009 and they currently only have four on the 25-man roster in Carlos Gomez, Ryan Braun, Jody Gerut and Hart.
Whether a trade or signing is next on the horizon for this team remains to be seen, but the Hot Stove League shouldn’t cool down for Milwaukee for a bit yet.
Just an FYI here to finish things up, the next Brewer Nation podcast with yours truly and Cary Kostka should be recorded at some point this month, schedules permitting. We’ll definitely keep you posted though here at the blog so come back often and thanks for your continued (or brand new) readership!
The Milwaukee Brewers have avoided an arbitration hearing with J.J. Hardy for the second time by agreeing to a one-year deal worth a reported $4.65 million. If accurate, this would represent a raise of exactly $2 million for the starting shortstop.