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Arbitrators May Break Corey Hart

Today marks the first day of actual baseball arbitration hearings.  Of the 44 players that exchanged salary figures with their organizations, 32 of them have come to an agreement, leaving 12 with the potential of going all the way to a hearing in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Most of those players will likely sign for a figure around the midpoint (the number between the player’s and club’s offer), but some will actually go to a hearing where an arbitrator will pick either the team’s or the player’s figure in a system titled, Final Offer Arbitration.  There is no talk of midpoints in an actual hearing.

Unless the Milwaukee Brewers and Corey Hart‘s representatives (including CAA agent, Jeff Berry) can come to an agreement in the final hour, while both sides are getting ready to do battle in St. Petersburg, today will mark the first arbitration hearing, including the aforementioned parties.  Last year, Corey Hart earned $3.25 million.  This year, he submitted a figure of $4.8 million, while the Brewers submitted $4.15 million.

I get the feeling that this is going to be a tough sell for Hart.  While his representation will compare him to other players with similar numbers to substantiate their offer, looking at Hart’s production in 2008 compared to 2009, alone, makes me think it will be hard to convince an arbitrator that he deserves a $1.5 million+ raise.  Compared to 2008, Hart had a worse fielding percentage, batting average, SB/AB ratio, SO/AB ratio, RBI/AB ratio, HR/AB ratio, and 2B/AB ratio.  The one area of improvement that stands out a little bit is his BB/K ratio.  Also, Hart should see an increase in production as he gets older (he turns 28 in March).  He should be peaking in performance sometime in the near future, as long as he has completely rebounded from last year’s appendectomy.

Milwaukee has been able to avoid an arbitration hearing with 3 other players who settled before it ever got to the point of seeing an arbitrator.  If the hearing occurs, it will be the first time Brewers General Manager, Doug Melvin, is on one side of the table.

By the way, if you were representing Hart, which other players would you compare him to?

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

4 replies on “Arbitrators May Break Corey Hart”

I would never recommend a player going to arbitration, especially if it’s over less than 1 million dollars. Hart wants 4.8 million and Brewers offered 4.1 million. Don’t get me wrong 700,000 dollars difference is a lot of money but, when you go to arbitration over that it’s not a good idea. All you hear from the team is how bad you are, so you have to be confident in your ability. But, if Hart thinks he is worth 700,000 more dollars go for it and get your money.

If I was representing Corey Hart, I would try to draw a comparison between him, Hunter Pence and Nate McLouth. All are versatile outfielders who could easily join the 20/20 club. Offensively, their averages hover around the same .270-.290 mark with Hart and Pence swinging more freely than McLouth, but packing more power potential. The three are All-Stars, and Hart stands to generate many runs as a table-setter in Milwaukee’s lineup for Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. McLouth stands to make around $5M in 2010 (Contract: 3 years/$15.75M, plus 2012 club option). Pence will be paid $3.5M for 1 year as per his arbitration agreement with Houston. Averaging McLouth and Pence’s contracts sets Hart’s potential value around $4.25M/year. A raise, but not quite the $4.8M that Mr. Hart seeks. Thoughts?

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