Feb. 21: Q of the Day
I understand how arbitration works, but how are salaries determined for players that are not yet arbitration eligible?
— Steve C. Springfield, Mo.
Players will less than three years of service time fall in the category of not yet being arbitration eligible, and that means that those players have almost no leverage when negotiating a contract. The set Major League minimum for 2013 is $490,000 and most players with less than three years of service time will make that or just a little more.
A player can “negotiate” with a club to some extent, but ultimately the team makes the binding decision. If the two sides can’t agree on a salary figure by the March deadline, then a team can simply renew a player’s contract at whatever number the club desires. This is why you don’t see the sharp salary increases that you do once a player hits arbitration. Look at David Freese’s case, for example. Last year, he made $508,000 as a player with less than three years of service time. This winter, he was able to negotiate a $3.15 million salary by being arbitration eligible.
(A bit off topic, but…) I think it’s also interesting to note that in 2011, the Major League minimum was $414,000. It will be $500,000 in 2014. That is quite a substantial jump and was something negotiated by the players in the last Collective Bargaining Agreement.
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