"Un-Break My Heart". Toni Braxton's signature song was the #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 list when our Toronto Blue Jays last met up with a player in front of a MLB salary arbitration panel. A week or so after reliever Bill Risley's arbitration ruling, Braxton's two-month reign on the top of the Billboard list was supplanted by a new British female quintet called Spice Girls, with their first single "Wannabe".
Now that you are back from Youtube, let's just say that it's been a while since the Jays have had to appear in front of three non-baseball experts to bash their own player for 60 minutes. I imagine that the hearing would be something like a Kramer vs. Kramer-type character assassination, except that Kramer will have to live with Kramer for an at least one more season and may actually want to hook up for several more years.
As we segway from pop culture references to actual baseball history, it is worth noting that the Blue Jays franchise had their first salary arbitration hearings in early 1980, just several weeks after the theatrical release of the above-mentioned movie. Only eight players (not counting the two from this year) have ever gone through this process with the Jays. Bookended by an Academy Award Best Picture and the incredibly annoying yet catchy pop song, let's see how these eight have done:
- 1980: Dave Lemanczyk (RHP) LOST in arbitration. Club offered $130k, he asked for $165k.
- 1980: Roy Howell (3B) WON in arbitration. Club offered $110k, he asked for $133k.
- 1982: Dave Stieb (RHP) LOST in arbitration. Club offered $250k, he asked for $325k.
- 1983: Damaso Garcia (2B) WON in arbitration. Club offered $300k, he asked for $400k.
- 1983: Roy Lee Jackson (RHP) LOST in arbitration. Club offered $155k, he asked for $225k.
- 1988: Tom Henke (RHP) LOST in arbitration. Club offered $725k, he asked for $1.025MM.
- 1991: Roberto Alomar (2B) WON in arbitration. Club offered $825k, he asked for $1.25MM.
- 1997: Bill Risley (RHP) LOST in arbitration. Club offered $380k, he asked for $550k.
Seems like a few good players made that arbitration list, with the Jays' all time arbitration record (from the club's perspective) sitting at 5-3, a healthy .625 winning percentage. The source was my copy of the Toronto Blue Jays Official Guide 2000--this part of the book will still be up-to-date for another couple of weeks or so!
Now it's your turn to be the arbitrator. Now, most of you have more baseball knowledge than any of the arbiters chosen by MLB, so pretend that the two sides had just presented their case to you.
Remember that you are only allowed to consider the following criteria:
1. The contribution of the player during the previous season
2. The length and consistency of the player’s career
3. The record of the player’s previous compensation
4. The performance of the player’s club (and attendance) during the previous season
5. Any physical or mental defects the player may have
6. Comparable baseball salaries (of players in a similar class/MLB experience level)
If you need to brush up on the arbitration process, you can read my previous post.