With Ryan Zimmerman and the Washington Nationals reaching a contract agreement today, we can close the book on the salary arbitration class of 2009. The process, which was collectively bargained and implemented in 1974, works almost entirely in favor of the players. Most will see massive salary increases from last season. As noted below, the increase in salary for these 111 players from 2008 to 2009 is a whopping 751 percent.
Here are some other vital stats on this year’s salary arbitration class:
- Number of players that filed: 111 on 1/15/09
- Number of players exchanged figures with their clubs: 46 on the 1/20/09 deadline
- Amount in salaries for all 111 players for ’09: $298,891,250
- Amount in salaries for all 111 players (includes multi-year contracts) for '09: $580,816,250
- % of ’09 salary for the 46 players that exchanged figures against total: $136,275,000 or 46% of the total
- Total 2008 salaries for the 111 players that filed in 2009: $122,947,513
- Increase in salary from 2008 to 2009 for the 111 players that filed: 143%
- Total salaries for 48 players that exchanged figures in 2008: $136,275,000
- Avg. salary for the 48 players that exchanged figures in ’08: $2,839,063
- Avg. salary for the 46 that exchanged figures in ’09: $3,011,638
- Difference between avg. salary for exchange players from ’08-’09: $172,575 (an increase of 6 percent from the year prior)
- Of the 46 that exchanged figures, # of those reached mid-point deals: 12
- Number of mid-point contracts in 2008: 5
- Of the 111 in '09, number of multi-year contracts: 15
- Biggest contract in this year’s class: Nick Markakis of the Orioles (6-years, $66.1 million)
- Record deal: According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, Jonathan Papelbon's contract is the third highest in history by any first-time arbitration-eligible player. The only ones higher were Ryan Howard's $10 million arbitration award in 2008 and the $7.4 million that was awarded to Miguel Cabrera after he won his case in 2007. Papelbon's deal becomes the biggest ever by any first-time eligible pitcher -- starter or reliever.
- Arbitration hearings (1): Of the 46 players that exchanged salary figures, only three cases were ruled on by arbitration panels, the lowest number of cases since 2005 when Kyle Lohse, Jeremy Affeldt, and Juan Cruz had decisions rendered. This year, the players beat the clubs 2 to 1 in hearing, seeing SP Shawn Hill of the Nationals and 2B Dan Uggla of the Marlins winning their cases, while C Dioner Navarro of the Rays lost his case.
- Arbitration hearings (2): This year marks the first time since 1996 that the owners will not have a winning record in salary arbitration hearings. That year, 7 players (Steve Avery, Jeff Fassero, Chuck Knoblauch, Mark Lewis, Mike Stanton, Rick Wilkins, and Bernie Williams) won their cases, while 3 players (Willie Banks, Arthur Rhodes, and Ivan Rodriguez) lost.
- Historical Hearing Record: Of the 487 salary arbitration cases that have been heard since the process was collectively bargained into MLB in 1974, owners have won 280 (57%) to the players' 207 (43%) cases heard.
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Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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