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Monday, October 11, 2021

Projected Arbitration Salaries For 2022

Matt Swartz has created a model to project salaries for arbitration eligible players, which we’ve been publishing at MLB Trade Rumors for 11 years.

In the baseball industry, teams and agents determine arbitration salaries by identifying comparable players. To project the entire arbitration class in this way would take a massive amount of time and effort. So, Matt has developed an algorithm to project arbitration salaries that looks at the player’s playing time, position, role, and performance statistics while accounting for inflation. The performance of comparable players matters, but our system is not directly selecting comps for each individual player.

As a disclaimer, I should note that 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.

Please note that service time is not yet official, nor is the Super Two cutoff known.  Plus, a good number of these players will be removed from the 40-man roster before arbitration can be filed.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 11, 2021 at 03:56 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: arbitration

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   1. Darren Posted: October 12, 2021 at 04:23 PM (#6045860)
The Mets look like they have easy decisions on: Nimmo, Davis, McNeil, and Alonso.
   2. Darren Posted: October 12, 2021 at 04:25 PM (#6045861)
Juan Soto at $16.2 mil in year number 1+ is rough. Not wrong, but rough.
   3. Walt Davis Posted: October 12, 2021 at 05:45 PM (#6045870)
I think that Soto number blows the record out of the water -- still around $12 I think. If my memory's right, he probably won't get quite $16. But he will be at 3 years, 134 days so he was just short of super-2 coming into 2021 and arbitrators (should it get that far) do seem to frown on such shenanigans** and will likely treat him more like Bryant in his 2nd arb year than like a 3-year player. (Bryant had a mediocre year that year though, missing two months, so he didn't get much of a raise but probably would have gotten around $16 if he's repeated.) Both sides know this of course so expect an agreement at some number that will keep Mr Soto comfortable for the rest of his life.

** OK, I'm projecting but they do take that extra service time into account so Soto will likely be awarded more than a Soto equivalent (if such a thing existed) with 3.000 years service time.
   4. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 12, 2021 at 06:23 PM (#6045881)
But he will be at 3 years, 134 days so he was just short of super-2 coming into 2021 and arbitrators (should it get that far) do seem to frown on such shenanigans** and will likely treat him more like Bryant in his 2nd arb year than like a 3-year player.
Not sure how it might affect a potential arbitration, but Soto is about as far removed from any service time shenanigans as one could be. He was an emergency call-up in 2018 with only 35 PA above A ball after a rash of outfield injuries (half a dozen or more, IIRC) left the Nationals with few options. He hit so well he couldn’t be sent down, and was in the Majors to stay a year or two ahead what would otherwise have been a ‘normal’ development schedule.

The Nationals would be wise to sign him long term, but if he goes to arbitration, his comparators are all-time greats.
   5. McCoy Posted: October 12, 2021 at 07:10 PM (#6045893)
Rizzo's binders told him to keep him up
   6. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 12, 2021 at 08:54 PM (#6045923)
Just eyeballing, besides Soto at $16.2M, 3 players are projected for more than $15M:

Trea Turner – $19.8MM
Cody Bellinger – $16.1MM
Aaron Judge – $17.1MM

Bellinger was so bad this season (.545 OPS, 45 OPS+, -1.5 WAR) that one wonders if there might be some hesitation there, but the Dodgers are big spenders, and 2019 was too good a season to walk away from. However, another down year might cause some rethinking. The other guys are worth every penny.
   7. The Duke Posted: October 13, 2021 at 01:04 AM (#6046036)
That’s a huge arb amount for Oakland and NYY. I wonder what Oakland will do there.

Bellinger. Ooph. I’m not sure I’d incur luxury tax penalties for him. I think I’d be looking at dealing him, signing a cheaper multi year deal, or simply cutting him loose. I could see a team like the angels going for him. They seem to have an Achilles heel for paying huge sums for once good outfielders and then watching them collapse beyond even pessimistic expectations.
   8. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 13, 2021 at 10:14 AM (#6046046)
Looks like easy calls for the Red Sox (yes to all) and I've got to assume Devers is next in line for a contract extension. I wouldn't be surprised if they start talks with Renfroe as well, although I could see him holding out for FA and trying to score one big contract.
   9. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: October 13, 2021 at 11:10 AM (#6046069)
Cody Bellinger – $16.1MM


Is there any precedence of arb amounts going down after shitty years?
   10. Walt Davis Posted: October 13, 2021 at 05:43 PM (#6046159)
if he goes to arbitration, his comparators are all-time greats.

Without question, Soto is setting the record, I'm just not sure he's gonna beat the record by 33% (if I'm right that the record for first-year is around $12). Or, yes, they could do an extension/buy-out sort of deal which I assume will set some sort of record as well but possibly pay him less in 2022.

Is there any precedence of arb amounts going down after shitty years?

I'm not aware of any. The rules limit any reduction to 20% max but even injured guys usually just re-sign for the same amount. The usual "penalty" for a crap year is a minimal raise. And it would be hard for the Dodgers to argue against a small raise -- he started nearly every day he was healthy until Sept. If he' was good enough to be in the everyday lineup, he gets a service-time raise. ("If he was that bad, why did you play him every day?" ... but man was he bad.) Note, that figure in #6 is no raise at all, it's probably a small under-estimate.

Now it's possible that the Dodgers will give him a "sign for $X or we'll non-tender you" ultimatum ... which might entail officially being non-tendered then re-signed the next day (this used to happen fairly often but I haven't noticed it in years).

That's not a huge amount for Oakland. It's $54 M. They have another $14 M committed to Andrus and Piscotty. The rest of the roster will run maybe $15 M putting them around $83. That's the same as their 2021 payroll, a bit less than 2019, a little less than 2020 pro-rated. They get about $210 M from MLB plus half their local revenues. They can still afford a couple of players at the deadline if they're in contention.
   11. Ron J Posted: October 13, 2021 at 08:28 PM (#6046180)
Bill James made two main points about arbitration.

First, the argument is never about how good a player is, but rather who the comparable players (and service time factors into this. Mike Trout is of no value for comparison purposes and the further away from the present the less useful a player is as a comp)are and what are they making.


Second, the system kind of breaks when there aren't any reasonable comps.
   12. Darren Posted: October 14, 2021 at 11:36 AM (#6046272)
And it would be hard for the Dodgers to argue against a small raise -- he started nearly every day he was healthy until Sept. If he' was good enough to be in the everyday lineup, he gets a service-time raise. ("If he was that bad, why did you play him every day?" ... but man was he bad.) Note, that figure in #6 is no raise at all, it's probably a small under-estimate.


Is this an argument that's actually used in these hearings? Does it work? Because it seems kind of weak. The answer, I would think, would be, "We were paying him $16 million because we thought he was good, and that's also why we kept playing him. Also, after investing $16 million in him, we didn't exactly have a lot left over to get a good backup. So yeah, we thought he was good, but he wasn't."
   13. Ron J Posted: October 14, 2021 at 01:15 PM (#6046300)
#12 No, see above. He's going to be an odd case because it's not clear who the comparable players are.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: October 14, 2021 at 01:36 PM (#6046303)
In 1980, Oakland second baseman Mike Edwards sought $50,000 in arbitration.
Cheapskate A's owner Charles O. Finley offered.... $58,000. settlement undisclosed.

two years later, Baltimore SP Mike Flanagan asked for $485,000 and was offered $500,000.

in that case, the arbitrator canceled the case and Flanagan got $500,000.
   15. Darren Posted: October 14, 2021 at 03:56 PM (#6046340)
#12 No, see above. He's going to be an odd case because it's not clear who the comparable players are.


Okay, yeah, maybe? But I'm saying that the argument that Walt offers sounds weak to me. If anything, it's saying that if a player is better than replacement level, they deserve whatever salary they got, plus a raise for the next year.
   16. Ron J Posted: October 14, 2021 at 08:31 PM (#6046408)
#15 The act of offering arbitration is an implicit argument that you don't think his 2021 season reflects his full value. Or for that matter, 2020/2021

The argument will be about how much weight to place on his MVP season.

(And nobody will be introducing his ZiPS. I doubt Szym is very confident of any projections)

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