The Associated Press reports on Minnesota's new four-year $14 million contract with starting pitcher Nick Blackburn that will buy out the entirety of his arbitration eligibility and possibly one year of free agency. The four year deal includes a club option for $8 million.
Blackburn just missed super-two status following the 2009 season, leaving him subject to contract renewal during spring training. He would have been able to go through the salary arbitration process following the 2010 season when he achieved three years of MLB service time. The contract provides Blackburn with security, locking him up through at least 2013, following a year when he earned $440,000.
The second year player enjoyed a remarkably familiar sophomore season as 2009 seemed an extension of 2008 for Blackburn. Like 2008, he posted an 11-11 record with a slight decrease in his ERA, from 4.05 to 4.03. He made 33 starts and worked 205.2 innings for the team, posting solid but unexceptional rate stats that were completely in line with those he put up in his rookie campaign.
Blackburn's deal continues the ever-popular trend of inking young talent to multi-year deals that provide teams with cost certainty and allow them to forgo the potentially contentious arbitration process. The added security of a guaranteed salary and the stability of a settled contract holds plenty of appeal to these young players who are susceptible to injury or ineffectiveness. The trend began with the Cleveland Indians in the early 1990s as a means of maintaining their core of young players without budget busting increases via salary arbitration.
The Biz of Baseball maintains detailed information about baseball's salary arbitration process. Our arbitration scorecard has a recap of cases since 2005 as well as links to more detailed data. For a historical perspective on salary arbitration, please click here. Our archive of articles on the process, including player signings and filings can be found here.
Joe Tetreault is a member 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.
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook