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Salary Arbitration 2009 - The Super Twos PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 19 February 2009 02:49

2009 Super Twos

Here is a complete break down of the "Super Twos"
in this year's MLB salary arbitrtion class.

The following is the first part of a series of articles detailing the 2009 salary arbitration class in MLB. Look for an extensive article on Baseball Prospectus, as well as installments here on The Biz of Baseball and MLB Trade Rumors shortly. - Maury Brown

Salary arbitration is Marvin Miller's greatest gift to MLB players. Each year, I have been tracking the process, zeroing in on the subset of players that exchange salary figures with their respective clubs. This year, I am tracking all 111 that filed for salary arbitration, not just the 46 that exchanged figures later on in the process.

Between Jan. 15th and Feb 20th, every player that is eligible for this collectively bargained process will have either settled on contracts with their clubs, or have had their "case" heard before a panel of three arbitratiors where a club "offering" figure and a player's "asking" figure are determined. Arbitration hearings result in a ruling on one figure or the other, there is no middle ground (for more, see Breaking Down How Salary Arbitration Functions in MLB).

With the Tampa Bay Rays and Willy Aybar coming to an agreement on Weds., all 16 of the Super Twos in this year’s class of salary arbitration eligible players is now complete. With these being the players that have the least amount of major league service time for the eligible players, they seem like a good a place as any to start down the path that will end in several articles.

As a primer, here is how the MLBPA defines salary arbitration eligibility, and Super Twos:

A player with three or more years of service, but less than six years, may file for salary arbitration. In addition, a player can be classified as a "Super Two" and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 17 percent in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.

Like most of the 111 players that filed for salary arbitration this year, the majority of these 16 Super Two players reached agreements before or on Jan. 20, the final day before players and agents exchanged salary arbitration figures. They were:

  • Luke Scott, OF – Orioles
  • Taylor Buchholz, RP – Rockies
  • Ricky Nolasco, SP – Marlins
  • Humberto Quintero, C – Astros
  • Mike Napoli, C – Angels
  • Russell Martin, C – Dodgers
  • Angel Pagan, OF – Mets
  • * Melky Cabrera, OF - Yankees
  • Cole Hamels, SP – Phillies
  • Jack Taschner, RP – Giants
  • Chris Duncan, OF – Cardinals
  • Brandon League, RP – Blue Jays

* Yankees outfielder Melky Cabrera reached a 1-year, $1.4 million deal just before the deadline to exchange salary figures. However, his figures were released as part of MLBPA press release and his figures are included in the table provided

The other four players exchanged salary figures with their respective clubs were:

  • Brian Bannister, SP – Royals
  • Andre Ethier, OF – Dodgers
  • Willy Aybar, 3B – Rays
  • Shawn Hill, SP – Nationals
Here's the vital stats for this year's class of Super Twos:
  • The total salary (single, and multi-year agreements) for these 16 Super Two players is $47,277,500
  • The total salaries for 2009 is $27,577,500
  • Total salary avg. - $2,954,844
  • 2009 salary avg. - $1,723,594

It’s Hamel Time - Of all these players, it is Cole Hamel’s deal with the Phillies that stands out the most. He is the only Super Two player to garner a multi-year contract (3-years, $20.5 million). His 2009 base salary is also the highest of all Super Two players in this year’s class ($4.35 million). Hamel’s deal is the largest average annual value ever on a multi-year contract for a starting pitcher in his first year of salary arbitration.

Seeing Double – The Dodgers are the only club to see two Super Twos in salary arbitration this year (Andre Ethier and Russell Martin).

Wet Behind the Ears – Of the 16 Super Twos (and, for that matter the entire class of 111 salary arb eligible players this year), the Rockies Taylor Buchholz has the least amount of major league service time at 2.140

But, He’s an Old Two – “Oldest” Super Two is Kansas City’s Brian Bannister at 2.158 of ML service time.

Take Your Positions – The Super Two class is broken down by position, thusly:

  • OF – 5 (Scott, Ethier, Pagan, Cabrera, Duncan)
  • SP – 4 (Nolasco, Bannister, Hamels, Hill)
  • RP – 3 (Buchholz, Taschner, League)
  • C – 3 (Quintero, Napoli, Martin)
  • 3B – 1 (Aybar)

It Figures – As mentioned, in 2009 four Super Two players exchanged figures, whereas last year saw six Super Twos exchange figures with their respective clubs (Brian Bruney, Robinson Cano, Ryan Church, Ryan Howard, Mark Teahen, Chien-Ming Wang)

You Rule! – Of the 16 players this year, one went all the way to arbitration hearing. SP Shawn Hill won his case with the Washington Nationals, having a panel of three arbitrators rule in his favor and awarding him his 2009 asking salary of $775,000.

You Rule! (the 2008 version) – By comparison, two Super Two players went to salary arbitration hearing last year, Ryan Howard (won) and Chien-Ming Wang lost. Howard’s award in 2008 ties for the highest arbitration award to date with Alfonso Soriano in 2006. The difference was that Soriano lost his case (his asking salary was $12M). Howard's $10M is the highest sum award for a player with such a "young" level of service time (2.145 at the time of the award).Up until Howard won his case, the Phillies had never lost in salary arbitration.

Meet You Half Way – Both Brian Bannister and Willy Aybar’s 2009 salary is the mid-point between the player’s asking figure and club offering figure.

Welcome to the Gap – Smallest gap between asking and offering figures for the 2009 Super Two class was Ray’s third baseman Willy Aybar at $150,000. The largest gap was for the Super Twos was the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier at $1.1 million.

I’ll Raise Ya – Every player in salary arbitration this year will get a raise. Out of the Super Twos, the biggest salary increase from 2008 to 2009 goes to Cole Hamels ($500,000 to $4,350,000 or an increase of 770 percent. The smallest (if you can call it that) raise in salary for the Super Twos goes to Mets outfielder Angel Pagan from $425,000 in 2008 to $575,000 in 2009, or an increase of 35 percent.

The Howard Factor – Talk about an unfair fight. As mentioned, the average base salary for these Super Twos for 2009 is $1,723,594. With Ryan Howard garnering $10 million by winning his salary arbitration case last year, the average Super Two salary was a whopping $5,507,781 in 2008.

See a detailed account of this year’s Super Twos by selecting the image above


Maury BrownMaury 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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