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Looking Back At Arbitration In 2010

February is a dynamic, short month.  Certain areas of the United States experience their coldest temperatures of the year, but find that near the end of the month, it starts getting warmer and more enjoyable.  Baseball is very similar in the month of February.  The beginning of the month is marked by arbitration eligible players and their teams deep in negotiation over exchanged figures and possibly very mean and ugly arbitration hearings.  But near the end of the month, arbitration fades away, and Spring Training brings players and teams hope that it will be a successful year for all.

Arbitration season is now officially over.  Overall, the teams were victorious in 5 of the 8 arbitration hearings.  The teams won in the following hearings: Ryan Theriot (Cubs), Wandy Rodriguez (Astros), B.J. Upton (Rays), Brian Bruney (Nationals), and Sean Burnett (Nationals).  You read that correct; the Nationals had two hearings and won both of them (saving the team a total of $500,000 before attorney costs).  But in the end, who really wins from the hearings?  I think the following statement (from is very important to read.

[Sean] Burnett said Thursday night he was not upset about the arbitration process but wished he had come to an agreement with the team. He declined to say what the Nationals said about him during the hearing.

“It was interesting,” Burnett said by phone. “I learned a lesson. I don’t want to deal with it again.”

The three players who won their hearings were Cody Ross (Marlins), Corey Hart (Brewers), and Jeff Mathis (Angels).  Corey Hart’s win surprised some, but after he won, most people predicted that Cody Ross would have an easier job proving his case by just comparing his numbers with Hart’s.  Mathis is an interesting win.  His win proves that the arbitrators do not look only at a player’s main offensive categories.  For them to choose his $1.3 million offer, they had to look more at his defense and clutch hitting.

So let’s take a quick look back at the whole process.  128 players filed for arbitration, 44 players exchanged figures with their organizations, and only 8 went to hearing.  History suggested that the teams would have a narrow margin of victory vs. the players.  This turned out to be true.

The biggest win for the players was Corey Hart ($4.8 million vs. team’s offer of $4.15 million).  The biggest win for the teams was Wandy Rodriguez ($5 million vs. player’s offer of $7 million).

Last year, only 3 players went to a hearing.  In 2008, 8 players went to hearing (the same as this year).  In 2008, the clubs had a slightly better record (6-2).

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.

2 replies on “Looking Back At Arbitration In 2010”

Do you think it would have made sense for Burnett’s agent to advise him not to pursue arbitration and to just accept the $775,000 he will now be making anyway? The $925,000 he requested would have given him an extra $150,000, which is a lot of money, but is $.775 million that awful of a salary to make it worth potentially risking his confidence and ruining his career?

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