Another year of salary arbitration in MLB has come and gone with the ruling from Hunter Pence beating the Houston Astros in a hearing held on Friday.
The outcome of the case has broad implications that will roll over into next season’s class of players, and beyond.
The Astros had won their previous four cases (Darryl Kile (1997), Jose Valverde (2008), Mark Loretta (2008) and Wandy Rodriguez (2010). All-time, the Astros are now 8-7 over 15 hearings since 1974. The win, given that Tal Smith, the godfather of salary arbitration veterans on MLB’s side of the table, was a feather in the cap for the Beverly Hills Sports Council, the agency that represents Pence.
As mentioned, with Pence winning the case, it would set the bar moving forward, and here’s why: he has set a high bar for 2nd-time eligible position players that will be used in future cases with his $6.9 million asking figure.
Most of the comparable players in his class have salaries in the high $4 million to mid-5 million range. Those comps include Jeff Francour, James Loney, Carlos Quentin, BJ Upton, Delmon Young, who signed two days before Hunter's case at $5.375 million. Pence's $6.9 salary was based on not just his solid platform year, but BHSC successfully proved that even though Delmon Young's 2010 year was slightly better than Hunter's, his career consistency was worth the raise.
All future 2nd-time eligible players can now use Hunter as that comp when they file (assuming they have similar statistical numbers). He has single-handedly boosted that class to not just the $6 million dollar range, but the high $6 million figures.
In addition, his raise of $3.4m will also be a benefit to all future players, especially when compared to the raises received to other comps. For instance, Delmon Young only got $2.75 million raise, Quentin was $1.85 million, Loney sees $1.775 million, while Francoeur will get a raise of $1.625 million. So not only will agents going forward be able to argue that, based on stats, their guys deserves $6.7M-$6.9M, but they can also point to Hunter's raise and say their guy deserves a $3.2 million or even $3.3 million raise.
In the agency sphere BHSC record is now 4-4 over the past decade and is believed to be the best of any agency that has gone to as many hearings has they have over the same period. The Beverly Hills Sports Council has now won Pence’s case, but also Dan Uggla, Keith Foulke and Gregg Zaun, but lost with Brian Fuentes, Ryan Theriot, Orlando Cabrera and Kevin Gregg.
THE BIZ OF BASEBALL WILL HAVE AN EXTENSIVE REPORT ON SALARY ARBITRATION FORTHCOMING
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