Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hot Stove Season Ends, Arbitration Season Begins

It's that time of year again.  The Hot Stove Season is quickly cooling down, and the arbitration season is starting heat up.  According to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press, 119 major league players filed for salary arbitration yesterday.  This list includes AL MVP Josh Hamilton, NL MVP Joey Votto, power hitting first baseman Prince Fielder, closer Jonathan Papelbon, and surprise power hitter Jose Bautista. 

The salary arbitration process is pretty archaic.  When players and teams exchange salary figures in mid-January, they are given the option to negotiate a contract.  In most cases, the negotiations are fairly simple, and contracts are finalized by the mid-February deadline.  In situations where both parties can not come to an agreement by the deadline, they're required to appear before an arbitration panel and plead their cases.  These situations are often ugly, partisan, and uncomfortable. 

The way the system is set up, nearly every player that files for arbitration ends up receiving a substantial raise. About half of the players are expected to agree to terms with their teams within the next week.  Only a handful of the cases will actually get heard by the arbitration panel. 

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