The season of arbitration hearings began with the start of the month of February. While a few teams will still settle outside of a hearing, many more will got to hearings. These hearings often end up causing hard feelings between a player and their ballclub.
On December 11 the Miami Marlins traded pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and catcher Chad Wallach to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Mat Latos. Latos had no contract set in place for 2015 and was going into his third year of arbitration eligibility.
Latos and his agents wanted a raise for Latos so when they filed for arbitration the asked the Marlins for $10.4 million, the Marlins countered with an offer of $9.4 million. $9.4 million was actually a generous offer and a raise for Latos who earned $7.25 million.
The two parties had a chance to negotiate but whether or not they tried to find a mid-point is unclear. Some teams are more willing to negotiate to avoid a hearing. Regardless of any possible negotiations this went to an arbitration hearing.
Once the negotiations go to a hearing a panel of arbitors decides for either the player’s offer or for the teams offer. They do not try to find a middle ground once the hearing has commenced.
The arbitors ruled in favor of the Marlins, a large part of which could have been that Latos was injured for most of last season and they felt that they Marlins offer was enough of a raise for a pitcher who made just 16 starts, going 5-5 on the year with a 3.25 ERA. Those stats are not bad at all, however, the Marlins don’t know for sure that they are getting a fully healthy Latos.
On the other side of the spectrum, an arbitration panel ruled in favor of infielder Danny Valencia over the Toronto Blue Jays, handing the team it’s first hearing loss since 1991 when they lost to Roberto Alomar.
Valencia was awarded the $1.675 million he requested when he filedm according to the Blue Jays twitter account. Most of the time the team wins the hearings so this was a surprising outcome.
.@BlueJays Danny Valencia has been awarded $1.675 Million through arbitration.
— Blue Jays-Official (@BlueJays) February 6, 2015
Valencia is a good utility infielder who was traded by the Kansas City Royals to the Blue Jays last season. He’s a great hitter against left-handed pitchers hitting lefties at a .327 clip over his five year Major League career. Overall he’s a .262 career hitter.
A versatile player, Valencia spent time at first and third with the Blue Jays last season as well as spending some time at second with the Royals.
The arbitration panel must have believed that Valencia deserved a raise from the $1,065, 000 that he made in 2014. Again, it’s more common for the team to prevail in these types of hearings but as Valencia proved the player can sometimes win out.