Arbitration Contract Negotiation MLB Players MLB Teams

Comparing Corey Hart To Hunter Pence

Apparently, Corey Hart and his agents from CAA were unable to strike a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers in the final hour before their case went to arbitration.  It is expected that we will know which side won today’s hearing tomorrow.  The three arbitrators hearing the case are Elizabeth Neumeier, John Sands, and Sylvia Skratek.

Commentator Adam, from the post, Arbitrators May Break Corey Hart, proposed that Hart and his agents use Nate McLouth and Hunter Pence

In 2008, Nate McLouth signed a 1-year deal for $4.25 million.  Before the 2009 season, McLouth signed a 3-year deal with an additional 1-year team option [the breakdown is 2009:$2M, 2010:$4.5M, 2011:$6.5M, 2012:$10.65M club option ($1.25M buyout)], so it is difficult to compare that contract to what Corey Hart would like to make in a one-year arbitration deal.

However, Hunter Pence is an interesting person to compare Corey Hart with.  This year, Hunter Pence avoided arbitration by signing a 1-year deal worth $3.5 million (Pence offered $4.1 million, Astros offered 3.1 million – large gap).

Pence has historically had a higher batting average than Hart (including 2009).

Pence has had a better on-base percentage than Hart (including 2009).

There’s a large gap between Pence’s and Hart’s slugging percentage in 2009.

Hart strikes out more at the plate.

So Hunter Pence signed a 1-year deal for $3.5 million and Corey Hart wants $4.8 million?  Based on the comparisons above, it seems as though Hart should be happy that the arbitrators can’t pick below the Brewers’ offer of $4.15 million.  If you are Corey Hart’s agent, what’s your counterargument?

Thanks to FanGraphs for the comparison images.

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.

11 replies on “Comparing Corey Hart To Hunter Pence”

Hunter Pence is a Super 2, Corey Hart is a 4+ in terms of MLS. Comparing the 2 statistically has zero relevance to their contracts, due to the discrepancy in their MLS.

If looking at this years class, there are 3 other 4+ OF’s. Jeremy Hermida, Shane Victorino & Cody Ross. Hermida signed a 1-yr deal w/ BOS for $3.345M, Ross filed @ $4.45M – the Marlins @ $4.2M. Victorino signed a 3 yr – $22M deal with Philly.

Andre Ethier was a Super 2 last year (as a first time arb eligible) and would also be considered comparable as a 2nd time arb eligible. Though Ethier’s season blows Hart’s out of the water.

Good point. Apt time for a brush up..

In deciding to award the higher or lower salary, the panel may consider the following criteria:

(1) the player’s contribution to the club in terms of performance and leadership;

(2) the club’s record and its attendance;

(3) any and all of the player’s “special accomplishments,” including All-Star game appearances, awards won, and postseason performance;

(4) the salaries of comparable players in the player’s service-time class and, for players with less than five years of service, the class one year ahead of him.

The parties may not refer to team finances, previous offers made during negotiations, comments from the press or salaries in other sports or occupations.

The panel, without opinion, awards the player a one-year, non-guaranteed contract at one salary or the other. If the player is cut within 16 days before the season begins, he is entitled only to 30 days’ termination pay. If the player is cut during spring training but after the 16th day before the season begins, he is entitled only to 45 days’ termination pay.

Let me clarify, when I said, “If looking at this years class, there are 3 other 4+ OF’s.” I mean who actually filed for arbitration.

Comparing Hart to Hermida, Victorino and Ross

(1) the player’s contribution to the club in terms of performance;
•Hart is a table setter for Milwaukee’s sluggers, Fielder and Braun, not a liability in the field. Strikes out more than he should. Fast, strong, a playmaker on offense.
•Hermida provides pop off the bench but little defensive skill.
•Victorino is a stellar fielder, solid average with a bit of power and good for at least 25 steals a year.
•Ross brings power but lacks consistency. Not a star but can bring much-needed offesne to a power-starved Florida lineup.

(2) the club’s record and its attendance;
•Hart’s Brewers: 80-82, 3rd in NL Central
•Hermida’s Sox: 95-67, Wild Card, 2nd in AL East with sellouts everyday in Boston
•Victorino’s Phils: 93-69, NL East Champion
•Ross’s Marlins: 87-75, 2nd in NL East

(3) any and all of the player’s “special accomplishments,” including All-Star game appearances, awards won, and postseason performance;

•Hart: All-Star
•Hermida: Nothing of note
•Victorino: 1 WS Ring, 1 ASG selection, 2 Gold Gloves, incredible clutch skill during ’08 WS run
•Ross: Nothing of note

(4) the salaries of comparable players

•Hart requesting $4.8M, MIL offered $4.1M
•Hermida signed a 1-yr deal w/ BOS for $3.345M
•Ross filed @ $4.45M – the Marlins @ $4.2M.
•Victorino signed a 3 yr – $22M deal with Philly

Only Victorino and Hart have ASG accolades. Only Victorino has proven playoff success. Hermida will not start for Boston unless injury strikes Drew/Cameron/Ellsbury. Would I pay Hart more than Hermida? In my opinion, yes. Ross? Again, I would say yes. Victorino? No. Should Hart win his arbitration case? That’s for the panel to decide, not me.

Hart does have the benefit of being an All-Star, but that was in 2008. That should have been considered in the deal he signed last year. His numbers in 2009 don’t make anyone scream “wow”. I would also pay him more than Hermida. Would you pay him more than Ross solely on the basis that Hart has been to an All Star game and Ross has not?

I would pay Hart more based on his role with the team relative to his ASG selection. Ross is far from a poor player, but I feel that Hart can do more in Milwaukee than Ross can do in Florida.
I feel Ross is too streaky to build a lineup around, but Hart is part of a strong core of young players that includes Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, two of the NL’s most feared offensive players. Ross and Hanley Ramirez cannot match the offensive output of Milwaukee if Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla cannot consistently perform. In a few years, if the Marlin core is around and players like Chris Coughlan develop into bonafide stars, the Marlins will have a feared lineup and Ross could very well be its centerpiece. Ross has to plate the runs to be successful. Hart needs to be in position to score them and then let the core of the Brewer order take over.

Therefore, I feel that Hart is a more solid choice (despite his inconsistencies) than Ross due to the team around him. They have similar levels of experience at the MLB level, but I feel Hart can be the X factor in Milwaukee’s offense, whereas Ross needs more around him for his history of streakiness to disappear.

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