Arbitration trumps Free Agency

Image you are a Major League player. Which would you prefer to be:

A relative youngster with arbitration rights? Or, a veteran finally getting a shot at free agency, with teams fighting over you as the price soars?
Well, in this weird offseason, it was no contest. Arbitration paid, as usual, and free agents took a bath. As in, getting soaked.
Crunching the numbers (which is what happened to most free agents – they got crunched):
  • 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).

1 Comment

Jason Varitek almost made your list of biggest pay cuts! And just think of all those players still unsigned.


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