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Arbitration Guidelines, Strategy, And A Competition At Tulane

I am currently in The Big Easy (New Orleans), and very alive after celebrating my 26th birthday.  In fact, I am in New Orleans, because over the next couple of days I will be serving as an arbitrator at the Tulane National Baseball Arbitration Competition, a popular and intellectually stimulating event open to law school students.  I will also be moderating a panel on baseball issues in the Dominican Republic, but that is a topic of conversation for a different post.

The Salary Arbitration Hearings will be run in a similar fashion to the hearings that will take place between a select number of players and their teams, which will actually result in real money exchanging hands.  The committee hosting the competition chose Jay Bruce, Shaun Marcum, and Rickie Weeks as the players under consideration.  Teams will submit a brief for the team or player and then perform an oral argument for the side they are told to represent.  Importantly, teams have to ignore anything that happened to the three players after the cases were released on November 30, 2010.

The oral arguments are governed by the same rules that true MLB salary arbitration hearings must comply with.  Those rules may be found in Section VI(F)(12)(a)&(b) of the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The criteria will be the quality of the Player’s contribution to his Club during the past season (including but not limited to his overall performance, special qualities of leadership and public appeal), the length and consistency of his career contribution, the record of the Player’s past compensation, comparative baseball salaries and the existence of any physical or mental defects on the part of the Player.

As pointed out by MLBTradeRumors, the following cannot be used as evidence in the hearing:

  • The financial position of the player or the team.
  • Press comments or testimonials about the performance of either the player or the club. “Recognized annual Player awards for playing excellence” are the exception to this rule, so Josh Hamilton will absolutely bring up his MVP if he and the Rangers go to a hearing.
  • Offers made by either side before the hearing.
  • The cost of representatives hired by the player or team.
  • Salaries in other sports or fields.

Length and consistence of career contribution tend to play a larger role for a first-time salary arbitration eligible player as opposed to someone who has played for a longer period of time.  For a first-time eligible player, the previous year could just be a fluke – an outlier.  For seasoned veterans, their performance in the previous season likely plays a greater role.

I am excited to serve in the role as arbitrator over the next couple of days, and I hope to hear some fantastic oral arguments.  I will likely Tweet about my experiences at the event, so be sure to follow me, if you are not already.

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.

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