A little over a year ago, Ryan Howard dropped his agent Larry Reynolds of Reynolds Sports Management in favor of Casey Close, who works for CAA. Howard was coming off of an MVP year and was hoping for another stellar season so that he could go to arbitration with Close and get a monumental deal. Howard had a solid 2007 campaign, but his 2006 numbers dropped in almost every category. Even though he has seen a drop in performance, Howard still believes that he has a strong case going into arbitration against the Philadelphia Phillies.
As strong as Howard feels about the lofty numbers he has put up at such a young age, he and his agent should possibly be concerned with the Phillies track record in arbitration hearings. Since arbitration began as a way to solve disputed salary figures in 1994, the Phillies have a record of 7-0 in cases that actually get heard (in most instances, the player and team settle beforehand). This is important, because the MLB uses a Final Offer Arbitration system, which means that the arbitrator will have to choose the offer from the player or the team at the conclusion of a hearing (there is no middle ground).
Howard is looking for $10 million while the Phillies only wish to spend $7 million (which is what Pujols received in his first year of arbitration eligibility). If the case ends up going to an actual hearing, do you think that the Phillies will remain undefeated at 8-0 or will Howard end up breaking the team’s winning streak? The hearing is scheduled for February 20th. If the two parties do not settle before that date, it should be an interesting case for all sports agents to observe.
The only other team that remains without a loss in arbitration hearings? The Tampa Bay