Arbitration trumps Free Agency
Image you are a Major League player. Which would you prefer to be:
- The 111 players who were eligible for free agency enjoyed a cumulative raise of $267,825,000 over their 2008 salaries, or an average of $2,412,838.
- The arbitration-eligibles pulled down a collective $298,891,250 last season, and pulled that up to $566,716, 250 — even though only three of them (Dan Uggla, Shawn Hill, Dioner Navarro) actually had to sweat through a hearing.
- The 94 free agents who signed Major League contracts had their collective pay slashed by an amazing $115,809,000, from $450,467,000 in 2008 to $334,658, 000 for the coming season. (And don’t forget these numbers would be even more startling if we included the 56 free agents who had to settle for Minor League deals.)
- 30 of the 94 signed for raises.
- Of those, four Yankees (Damaso Marte, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett) pocketed pay hikes totaling $18.75 million, or $4.68 million a piece.
- The other 26 received a combined raise of $39,038,000, or $1.5 million a head.
- The biggest raise among non-Yankees was bestowed by the other New York team, the Mets re-signing Oliver Perez for a $6.5 million salary boost.
- Smallest raise? Jason LaRue, bumped $100,000 by the Cardinals, from $850,000 to $950,000.
- Biggest cuts? Five players took eight-figure hits: Jason Giambi ($17 million), Mike Hampton ($13 million), Bobby Abreu ($11 million), Ken Griffey and Andy Pettitte ($10.5 million each).