The Backseat GM: Arbitration Edition

I've got a lot going on in my life, wedding planning, work conferences, etc etc.  However, my love for the Padres runs deep.  As a former political campaign manager, and current political account manager for a political consulting and services firm, there is something about being a Baseball GM  that is very appealing to me.  

There are actually a bunch of similarities:

1) In both you have to work within the framework of a pretty strict budget.

2) They work within a finite "season" structure.  Political Seasons and Baseball seasons end, then you regroup and plan for the next one.

3) Both work both in the short term, and thinking about building an "organization".

So I am going to try and look at Jed's moves in the way I would in my professional life.  I also play a lot of "Hardball Dynasty" on where you are basically a GM and try an lead an imaginary team to victory.  So I have a great understanding for the rules under the current CBA. 

So I will do my best to look at our, League Highest 13 Arb Eligible players and evaluate them under my own criteria.

First, allow me to explain a bit about Arbitration before getting into my analysis. Generally speaking "Club Control" of a player, once they start on a MLB roster is 6 years. Organized as followed:

1- League minimum

2- Marginally above or at league min

3- Marginally above or at league min

4- Arb year 1 40% of projected FA earnings

5- Arb year 2 60% of projected FA earnings

6- Arb year 3 80% of projected FA earnings

There are plenty of examples of reasons this would change.  Super 2's like Chase who started like a day before management should have and thus started his MLB clock at the point he got a fourth year of arbitration a mistake that cost ownership around 2 million. Also, if you are rocking back and fourth between minors and majors, you could get a 4th year of dirt cheap contracts and push back arb a year.

HOWEVER! This is how is "mostly" goes. 

So, when it comes to making decisions on arb eligible players you have only a couple decisions.

1. Release them. *You get nothing except, not having to pay the player.

2. Trade them and let another club make a decision on arb. *Generally you don't get much in return as arb is a pain in the ass, and I am not sure if this is actually acceptable anymore.

3. Offer them a contract before to arbitration deadline. *Most want to do this, Jed & Co have been successful at this thus far

4. Go to the arbitrator, who will accept a dollar amount from the Players Representative (generally agent or attorney) who will present a case supporting that number, and will accept a dollar amount from the management's representatives (generally a FO person or attorney) who will support their number. The arbitor picks one of the two, and that will be the contract amount.  *If the player wins, it normally pisses off management, if management wins, it generally pisses off the player, thus is isn't a desirable way of working

So, while I respect stats and am bias as a fan, if I were Jed, these would be my moves. I will not speculate too much on what their arb value is as I don't have the desire to research it properly.

Chase Headley: I offer him a one year contract, avoiding arbitration:  This will probably net him around $4 Mil? We don't have an amazing replacement, but I think we will soon.  Right now, to stay anything close to competitive we need him, he is a "professional hitter" clutch, and a good clubhouse guy from what I hear.  He is also smart and thoughtful in interviews.  I also just think he is a good guy.  Would love to see him play more of a leadership role next year.

Tim Stauffer: I offer him a 4 year deal at 4-5 mill a year: Did I just lose my credibility? Did I have any to begin with? Look Tim has shown some brilliance the last two years, and has shown some signs of suck.  The guy was a workhorse and I think, because of his minor league injuries and struggles, he acts a lot more like a veteran than a guy going into his first year of arb.  We could "arb away" at Tim getting discounts and then letting him walk for something like a Type B draft pick. My belly tells me that he will be a mid-back of the rotation starter for at least 4 years, and for that value at $4 million a year, is amazing. Yes, this year and next we will be over paying. But if you adjust for inflation and recognize the premium on starting pitching, this could be a steal, particularly if Tim keeps his workhorse status.  Its a gamble, but why not gamble on your own "homegrown" guy? Would he take this? I think so.

Clayton Richard: I offer him a 1 year contract to avoid arb: This is a sticky issue.  Why do 1 year arb with Clayton, but extend Stauffer?  Well, I am not a full believer of Clayton.  I love the guy, I think he is a class act and he is effective on the mound, and has shown flashes of amazing.  I am always weary of lefties who have not had Tommy John his injury this year frightens me. On an interpersonal level, it may be hard to do the above deal, and not do the same for Clayton, but ultimately, I feel this is the right thing to do for the organization.

Will Venable: Try to move him in off-season or I offer him 1 year contract at $900k, if his agent rebuffs, go to arb: Look, no one likes arbitration, particularly against a Princeton grad.  But I am seeing first year arb deals out and around for 1.5 mil to 2 mil.  No one wants to pay for a .705 ops corner outfielder. I know ops is a junk stat, but lets face it. He is a platoon outfielder who is still lacking consistency at the plate.  I offer the 1 year contract with promises that, if he corrects some of the inconsistency in the next year, they will make it up to him.  He will probably go to Arb, and win, as his .245 / .310 / .395 is probably much better ballpark adjusted and $2 million isn't *that* much but I hate paying a million to anyone with so much inconsistency.  

Dustin Moseley: Offer one year contract to avoid arb: Moseley needs to prove he can pitch without his arm falling off before you sign this guy to anything else.  MLBTR says he would be $1.8 mil.  Which is excellent if he can replicate most of what he did this year, and proves reliable. 

Nick Hundley: Offer one year contract to avoid arb: I just don't think people ever lock down a catch long term. I love Hundleberry he is one of the only leaders in the clubhouse and seems like an excellent guy.  He tore up pitching in the last weeks of the season.  I think he could be special and probably deserves a longer contract, but getting him at 40% just makes sense. 

Luke Gregerson: Offer one year contract to avoid arb: Luke is another consistency guy who needs to find his slider again.  Hitters have adjusted, it will be a big deal to see if he can.  If he doesn't find it I say trade him during the season.  I feel like a huge part of the advantage with relievers is batters just not knowing what to expect.  Gregerson's slider was only as vicious as it took scouts to assess and recommend adjustments.  If Gregerson can master another pitch to throw for strikes, he will be successful and worth another arb year. 

Chris Denorfia: Give him the Venable deal: Neither of these guys are healthy or consistent enough to be starters on a major league club.  Oddly, I think Denorfia is better than Venable. Denorfia is EXACTLY what I am looking for in a 4th outfielder.  He can play all the OF positions, he gets on base at an above league average rate, and he has a bit of scrappiness about him. I which he brought a bit more power. But his .337 OBP is really what I like.  

Jeff Fulchino: Probably release maybe go to arb and see what he does in Spring Training: He pitched 1.2 innings for a 13 ERA. We can probably find a waiver wire or rule V guy to replace him at a much cheaper rate. 

Joe Thatcher: Offer 1 year contract to avoid arb: a LHS of thatcher's caliber is probably well worth it.  He is a bonus as he can actually pitch to righties. 

Alberto Gonzalez: Release or Trade: He will probably be cheap, and has been clutch RBI wise.  But I think as far as a value is concerned. Parrino can do everything he does, and is cheaper. 

Rob Johnson: Try to replace and non-tender, otherwise offer one year contract to avoid arb: In the big scheme of things, I guess we non-tender Rob Johnson. He cannot hit, and seems so milquetoast. However, for me? I want a Rob Johnson around, he is a good defensive catcher, and can call a good game. I think he has minor league options. I think he makes pitchers better, and you want one of those guys around.  If we can find a Rob Johnson type defensive catcher who can hit .050 points higher, I go that direction. 

Jeremy Hermida: Offer contract to avoid arb: I think Hermida will come super cheap. MLBTR has him at $500k which to me, is worth watching him in spring training.  He is a former first rounder, and I feel like he could "get his groove back" and would like to watch him try.  Ultimately I think we have too many Venable, Denorfia, Hermida types around blocking younger players.  But taking an arb waiver on a guy like this, who projects to be less than half the cost of Venable and Denorfia is totally worth it.


Ultimately we have too many 4th outfielders: LF is Blanks' to lose, CF is Maybin's. I think we get a Free Agent RF'er and keep 1 or 2 max of Denorfia Hermida and Venable.

These decisions all would come within the Roster bubble.  It will be interesting to see how Jed goes, but with so many arb eligibles, there will be some surprises. 

This FanPost was written by a member of the Gaslamp Ball community and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gaslamp Ball managers or SB Nation.

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