The deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures has come and gone. The players who were on the clock included Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Max Muncy. For the last few years, the Dodgers have been able to settle all of their cases before they actually exchanged arbitration figures. The last time the Dodgers went to arbitration was in 2007 with Joe Beimel. This year, four players were not able to come to an agreement with the Dodgers. Those four are Max Muncy, Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor and Pedro Baez.
What Is Arbitration?
For some background on how players are eligible for arbitration. Players with three or more years that are not under a multi year contract (like Kenta Maeda) and aren’t yet eligible for free agency (six years MLB service time) are eligible for arbitration. Some players with less than three years of MLB service time are eligible for arbitration:
“If they have less then three full seasons of MLB service time, but are within the top 22% of players with more than two years of service time. This is called the “Super Two” exception” – FanGraphs
No players for the Dodgers fell short of the “Super Two” status with Julio Urias barely making it. Next season should see Walker Bueher eligible for arbitration so that will cost the Dodgers some extra money after 2020.
Overall the arbitration process is like this:
- Player is eligible for arbitration is either offered a contract or released
- Yimi Garcia was released instead of given arbitration
- Players and teams exchange figures
- A hearing is held and the arbitrator chooses either the player or team contract value
At any point in the above process the player and team can agree on a new contract.
MLB Trade Rumors had the following estimates and then followed by the actual agreed upon salary:
- Pedro Baez – $3.3M / not settled
- Cody Bellinger – $11.6M / actual $11.5M
- Kiké Hernandez – $5.5M / actual $5.9M
- Max Muncy – $4.6M / not settled
- Joc Pederson – $8.5M / not settled
- Corey Seager – $7.1M / actual $7.6M
- Ross Stripling – $2.3M / actual $2.1M
- Chris Taylor – $5.0M / not settled
- Julio Urías – $1.7M / actual $1.0M
For the players that did not settle here are the numbers that have been submitted for arbitration.
- Pedro Baez – team $3.5M / player $4M
- Max Muncy – team $4M / player $4.675
- Joc Pederson – team $7.75M / player $9.5M
- Chris Taylor – team $5.25M / player $5.8M
I’ve seen a lot of complaints about how Hernandez can be paid $5.9M while Muncy is below that. The dirty secret is that seniority factors into contracts before free agency. In this case Muncy has 3 years of service time while Kiké has 5. However, the numbers on Muncy, Taylor and Baez are so close. My question, why are they haggling over relatively small numbers? Arbitration hearings are nasty.
Impact To The Payroll
The salary page has been updated with all the latest information. To be conservative with the luxury tax numbers, I put in the high arbitration number for each of the four players. Despite many of us fans not happy, the Dodgers care about the penalty for exceeding the luxury tax thresholds. For 2020, the Dodgers will look to stay under $208M but Stan Kasten spoke about not feeling bound to that limit this coming season.
Given that the current number under the first luxury tax boundary is $34.5M the Dodgers seem to have a lot of room. However, when you take into account that the Dodgers will probably end up paying around $10M in incentives to Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Jimmy Nelson they are closer to being $24.5M under. That leaves plenty of room for upgrades now or as the season progresses. If the Dodgers somehow get the lower numbers from arbitration then they could have another $3.5M under the luxury tax.
The latest salary, after the latest adjustments are located here. It also includes the Jimmy Nelson salary information and will continue to be updated as arbitration numbers come through.
Getting all the salary arbitration cases settled before they reach a hearing clears out some possible issues. It’s really too bad the Dodgers did not settle all of their cases. When the hearings occur, feelings can get hurt and it can tarnish the relationship between the player and the team. Let’s hope the Dodgers and the players can get these settled before they actually go their hearing. Some teams will not settle after the figures have been submitted for arbitration, but let’s hope the Dodgers aren’t like that.