As a free agent, only a handful of players accept salary arbitration when it is offered them, as most opt to test the market. But, there are a handful of such players each year, and 2012 is no different with Kelly Johnson (Blue Jays), Francisco Rodriguez (Brewers), and David Ortiz (Red Sox) being in that class.
But, it’s Ortiz that has become an overlooked case, one that has vast implications to the slugger and the Red Sox.
Ortiz and the Red Sox are scheduled to go to hearing on Monday. With the amounts involved, chances are high that the two will reach an agreement beforehand.
Ortiz is the definition of “veteran”. He ended the 2011 season with 13.048 of Major League Service Time (MLST). He’s seeking $16.5 million, which ranks as the fourth highest ever asking figure behind only Ryan Howard (2008 with the Phillies, $18 million as a second-time salary arb player), Derek Jeter (2000 with the Yankees, $18.5 million in his last year of salary arbitration eligibility), Tim Lincecum (this year with the Giants in his 3rd yr of salary arb eligibility, $21.5 million) and Roger Clemens (2004 with the Astros, $22 million as a free agent with 20.142 of MLST).
In terms of offering figure by the Red Sox, the same players hold true. Astros with Clemens, Braves with Greg Maddux in 2002 ($13.5 million), Phillies with Howard ($14 million), Yankees with Jeter ($14.25 million), and Giants with Lincecum this year ($17 million) are the only cases that rank higher than the $12.65 million offered by Boston to Ortiz in the case that has yet to be settled.
Which gets us to why the odds are exceptionally slim that Ortiz and the Red Sox make their case in a hearing room.
The highest amount ever awarded in a hearing is $10 million (Howard won his case in 2007, while Francisco Rodriguez with the Brewers in 2007 and Alfonso Soriano with the Nationals in 2005 lost their cases). Win or lose, Ortiz smashes that number due to his long-tenure.
The amount the sides stand to lose is also something to consider. The gap between asking and offering is $3.85 million. Not exactly chump change.
The key is whether the mid-point number between asking and offering is too high for the Red Sox. Boston is offering $150,000 more than Ortiz made last season ($12.5 million). The mid-point between asking and offering figures is $14.575 million or $1.925 million over what the Red Sox are offering.
It comes back to that $3.85 million gap. That’s what the sides stand to lose if they come out on the wrong side of a hearing. Watch closely… chances are very high that a deal is reached between now and Monday between Ortiz and the Red Sox.
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 writes for Baseball Prospectus and is a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog.. 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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