Arbitration Process Begins For Five Braves


For five Atlanta Braves, most notably stars Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens, along with the supporting cast of Peter Moylan and Eric O’Flaherty, plus what is thought to be a cameo performance by superstar Dan Uggla, the arbitration process begins in earnest on Wednesday as the two sides exchange arbitration numbers. The sides then attempt to reach agreement on a salary for the 2011 season. If no agreement is reached, then an arbitrator would choose either the owner’s number or the player’s number for 2011 in hearings that would be held between February 1 and February 11.

I call Uggla’s appearance a cameo, as it will hopefully be brief and cheerful for both sides. Rumors have abounded for weeks that Uggla and the Braves are very close to signing a five year contract extension in the neighborhood of $61 million. In the event that doesn’t happen, speculation is that Uggla will settle for something in the range of $10 million for 2011 in preparation for his entry into free agency in 2012. Let’s hope for the Braves’ sake that the extension comes together, as it would be a shame to only have Uggla around for one season.

For Prado, this is his first year of arbitration eligibility, and thus his first taste of seven figure income. Coming off the best year of his career, I would expect to see the sides agree on a number in the $3 million range. Jurrjens is also in the first year of arbitration. Though he had an injury riddled 2010, my guess is that the work he did in his prior two years will also push him into the $3 million range. The third Brave that is in his first year of arbitration is O’Flaherty. As a middle reliever and left-handed specialist, I’d guess he’ll come in somewhere in the $750,000 range. Finally, Peter Moylan, in his second year of arbitration, will likely see his salary rise to the $1.5 million range.

As the owner of a very successful business for the past 12 years, I’d like to offer my sympathy to Moylan and O’Flaherty, who will toil for wages so low. I just wonder how it is that they still tower over anything I’ve been able to take out of my business even in its best year? :).

In closing, I’ll add that I think none of these players will actually go to a hearing. We don’t know the numbers that each side has submitted yet, but the process itself tends to yield settlements in advance of hearings. Why is this? Well, if the sides are way apart, the risk to either side of going to the arbitrator is very high, which strongly encourages the sides to seek a middle ground. If the two numbers are close, then why go to arbitration where you have to, in essence, trash someone you are going to have to work with afterward, when the reward is so small? Split the difference and call it a day.

Finally, does wishing for spring training to start make it stop snowing outside? Just checking!