in

Dodgers: 2020 Arbitration Cases Are Unsettling

Four players are on the path to a hearing.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 09: Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates as he trots around the bases after hitting a solo home run against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball game at Oracle Park on June 9, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

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.

The Numbers

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.

Final Notes

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.

Written by Tim Rogers

A fan of the Dodgers since 1973 since I got my first baseball cards while living in Long Beach. I came to San Diego for college and never left nor did I ever switch my Dodgers' allegiance. Some know me as the "sweater guy". #ProspectHugger

15 Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. The problem with arbitration is that it is not unlike an ugly divorce (or an employee’s annual job review) but where the participants stay together afterwards – for a while, anyway. The front office has to explain to a ‘judge’ why the player doesn’t merit the money he is requesting and to say “so and so is a good player but not that good” won’t work. The GM, or his rep, has to tear apart the players game to where it seems they are doing him a favor by keeping him on the team. And like that divorce, sometimes the players, win or lose, comes away angry, bitter. Their relationship from that point on can be tenuous at best.

  2. I think divorce is a bad analogy. the player and team remain together – that is, arbitration decides what the team will pay the player. and while it can get nasty, its all about analytics and numbers, and comparisons to other players with similar stats, age, service, etc, etc. It’s been a long time since Dodgers did not settle all of the arbitration cases – look forward to seeing what the arbiter rules and getting back to baseball and Spring Training

    • As I said, like a divorce but where the couple stays together afterward. The team goes into detail why the player is not worth the extra money. The player can’t very well argue why the team is no good to play for. It’s all taken very personally. Feelings are bruised. They may no heal.

  3. Buehler should be signed to a long term contract right now. Eliminate the arbitration and free agency issues. Every team needs an ace in the rotation long term. Buehler is young and strong. Now is the time for a long term contract. Waiting until deadlines approach just makes it more likely that snakes like Boras will crawl out from under their rocks and muddy the waters. Buehler has proven himself to be a postseason force. If you want to win a world series, you need this guy.

  4. The “rug trader” mentality of the investors has now reared its ugly head. There are not enough investors in Guggenheim that want to win at all costs. In other words, no die hard Dodger fans are in the group other than, maybe, Magic.

    • You’re joking right? Muncy messing around? What about the Dodgers’ FO? Arbitration is an exercise where basically the ownership “explains” why a player isn’t worth what they want to be paid. Talk about a basis for a sour relationship and especially in Muncy’s case, who has literally been one of the best players in baseball, not just for the Dodgers, for the last two years. Think about what his mindset will be as he listens to management come up with reasons not to pay him, and how he’ll feel is he loses in arbitration. You think he’s going to show up at spring training in the best frame of mind? Not frigging likely. It’ll also probably make him feel zero loyalty to the Dodgers after this season.

  5. I’m over the Dodger way of doing business. Bunch of Charley Cheapskates. They extorted $8 billion from their lical cable deal, then ripped off the public, many of whom still can’t get the games on TV. Their idea of a signing is to grab some broken down reliever and take a flier on fixing what no one else could. Most Dodger fans are pluable sheep, forgiving everything. The front office is straight up corporate profiteering, pocketing all the profits. I must see it for what is is

  6. The last part of the bottom paragraph is my concern for what takes place as a result of going to a hearing, and in some ways can make that said player’s mind up about leaving for sure when FA arrives. of course let’s hope this does not happen hear as far as those remaining unsigned arbitration eligible players go.

  7. The Dodgers are following a first round exit to a wild card team, one that we didnt know at the time would win it all. They follow that up with no free agent signings, losing 2 starters to free agency, and now refusing to sign 4 players that have been key members over the last several years. Hell of an off-season.

  8. look its simple any team in Baseball would pay Muncy at least $10 million –Joc as well–fucking pay them

  9. I’ve read one of the tactics the team will use with Pederson, Taylor and Muncy is to argue they are part time players. However in Muncy’s case especially, he’s tied for 23rd on the majors for HRs, 24th in RBIs and 26th in Runs scored but 105th in at bats. How many full time players are there that can claim better? The question ought to be why isn’t he a ‘starter’?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Dodgers: Cody Bellinger Breaks First-Year Arbitration Record with New Contract

Dodgers Best Positioned to Sign Mookie Betts Next Off-Season, Says The Athletic