UPDATE: The Nationals win the first salary arbitration case of 2012 against Lannan. He will earn $5 million for the 2012 season as opposed to the $5.7 million he had been seeking (see the Salary Arbitration Scorecard)
The first salary arbitration hearing for 2012 took place yesterday between LHP pitcher John Lannan and the Washington Nationals.
Beyond it being the first hearing of the year (itâ€™s likely that the results of it will be made known today), as arb hearings go, itâ€™s a substantive one for the Nationals.
Lannan has his work cut out for him if history holds court. From 2005-2011, the Nationals were involved in 7 salary arbitration hearings, and won 5 of them (71% record). The two that they lost were Shawn Hill in 2009 (Hill sought $775,000 to the Natsâ€™ $500,000) and Chad Cordero in 2007 (Cordero sought $4.15 million to the Nationals $3.65 million).
In other words, if Lannan wins, the difference between asking ($5.7 million) to Nationals offering ($5 million) would be the highest sum won by a player in a Nationals uniform ($700,000) since the Expos relocated to DC.
That likely doesnâ€™t bode well for Lannan.
Heâ€™s a second-time salary arb player with 4.011 years of ML Service Time. He went 10-13 with a 3.70 ERA in 33 starts last season ranking him 50th in the league by ERA. With the acquisition of Gio Gonzalez, heâ€™d rank 3rd on the Natâ€™s pitching staff by Ks (Gonzalez â€“ 197, Zimmerman â€“ 124, Lannan â€“ 106). Gonzalez was a Super Two who reached a $2.7 million deal avoiding arbitration. In terms of splits, he pitched a 3.34 ERA at home compared to 4.11 on the road. He pitched exceptionally well in June (1.95 ERA), after posting the worst ERA of his season the month prior (5.14 in May). He was, at the very least, consistent posting an ERA of 3.64 before the All-Star break and a 3.79 ERA after the ASG break.
Nothing screams â€śspectacularâ€ť for Lannan. Heâ€™s consistent and only saw wild fluctuation between the May and June numbers. His one goose-egg outing was a mid-season game against the Astros where he popped up a 15.43 ERA, the only double-digit earned-run average outing of the season.
Still, it comes back to the amount heâ€™s seeking against his service time and stats. Weâ€™re going with the Nationals to win today. Remember, itâ€™s salary arbitrationâ€¦ depending on how well a presentation is made, it can swing the three-member panel either way.
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. Hewrites for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog..Â He 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 (select his name in the dropdown provided).
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