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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Projected Arbitration Salaries For 2021

As a disclaimer, I should note that even in a normal year, our projections are not to be used as a scorecard for the agent and team on an individual player level.  A player doing better or worse than our projection isn’t indicative of anything.  Our arbitration projections are created as a tool for our readers to get a general idea of a team’s payroll situation.

This winter, those involved in the process do not know how arbitration will account for the 60-game season, nor is there an agreement in place between MLB and the MLBPA on how to address it.  Many cases may end up getting resolved in a hearing room.  To reflect that uncertainty, we’re providing three projections for each player:

Method 1: Applies model directly with actual statistics from this 60-game season
Method 2: Extrapolates all counting stats to would-be 162-game totals.  One home run becomes 2.7 home runs.
Method 3: For non-first-time eligibles, finds the raise they’d get in a 162 game season, then gives them 37% of that raise

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 15, 2020 at 12:05 PM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: arbitration

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: October 15, 2020 at 07:36 PM (#5983252)
For those that didn't read it: Methods 1 and 3 come out quite close for almost all players and I'm not sure they're ever too far away. I don't know if this requires MLB-MLBPA agreement but there's no way MLBPA is gonna agree with anything close to Methods 1/3 nor will owners agree to Method 2 (I know, arbitrators don't use this model but it mimics their thinking) so I'd guess at something in between on most of these. Basically arbitrators won't stick with their existing "model" and treat players as if they played only 37% of games this season so don't receive substantial raises but they won't go so far as to pretend it was a full season and give them the standard full raises.

For example, a player might have been on a sort $3/6/9 arb path. If they got $3 this year and performed to expectation such that (after a full season) they'd have gotten $6, my guess is they'd probably get $5. If they did extra well then, for a full season, they might have gotten a raise to $7, now they'll go to $6. Something like that is my guess. Arbitrators won't be concerned about how many games will be played in 2021, they'll set a full-year salary and let MLB/MLBPA work out the rest. That means arbitrators have no reason to "scale back" player raises.

It's a lot of players of course so I just looked at the Cubs then skimmed the rest for players I know. Nothing really jumped out at me. Schwarber is in line for at least $8, maybe $9 which I'd rather not pay but it's not like we have a handy replacement or are likely to find a substantially better player for that money. Still, while Happ seemed OK in CF, I'd rather the Cubs found a real CF somewhere, shifted Happ to LF and non-tendered Schwarber (then hopefully re-sign him at a lower salary). All of that assuming the Cubs are going to continue to be cheapskates in the FA market -- if not, then lets sign Springer. I will also be more amenable to keeping Kyle if the NL has a DH again -- there's gotta be a decent bat buried in him somewhere.
   2. Rally Posted: October 16, 2020 at 09:01 AM (#5983308)
I don't know if this requires MLB-MLBPA agreement

Nah, the player can pick a number that aligns with #2, the team something from 1 or 3, and the arbitrator picks one of the numbers. I think there are multiple arbitrators, so they could have different inclinations and results may not be consistent with each other.

It seems extremely unfair to players to pick anything other than #2, because you may end up reducing their salary twice. Once because the numbers were produced in a short season, and then again if some 2021 games are cancelled or if MLB/MLBPA agree to an across the board reduction if fans in the stands are either limited or completely prohibited.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: October 17, 2020 at 06:54 PM (#5983578)
To clarify, I'm certain (or as close as one can be without actually having a clue) arbitrators will award a full year salary. I mean it more as a question of what emphasis will they place on 2020 performance in terms of ranking.

Dansby Swanson was a career 84 OPS+ coming into 2020; he's still just at 87 after his "breakout" 110 OPS+ "season." He got $3.15 last time and normally if he'd just put up a 110 OPS+ style season, he'd be in line for probably $7, more than double. If he'd played only 60 games of a full 162 then, even with that performance, probably no better than $4.5. So $4.5 seems unfair to him but $7 would give him too much credit so somthing like $5.75?

Then sure, on the few cases where it will go to arb (maybe more than usual), they have to choose a number but they still have to decide on the "correct" value to decide which of the two proposals is closest. Agents and teams will also have to decide what the arbitrator is likely to do in order to "center" their proposals. It might well be best for all if MLB/MLBPA came to some agreement (or at least advice) on how arbitrators are supposed to do that under the circumstances.
   4. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 19, 2020 at 04:20 PM (#5983960)
It seems extremely unfair to players to pick anything other than #2, because you may end up reducing their salary twice. Once because the numbers were produced in a short season, and then again if some 2021 games are cancelled or if MLB/MLBPA agree to an across the board reduction if fans in the stands are either limited or completely prohibited.
Exactly. At best, maybe an arbitrator can justify a small adjustment for the shortened season not beIng as good a predictor of future performance, but it would be grossly unfair for the players to be awarded significantly less in arbitration, and then have additional cuts because of a shortened season. Equally wrong for the players to get less in arbitration, and then have the owners unjustly enriched by paying less for a 162-game season. It’s also unfair to have a patchwork of arbitration decisions using widely varying methods to evaluate the 2020 season. Anything other than giving players full credit should be negotiated by MLB & the MLBPA.

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