Two comps likely helped Hart
So, the verdict is in and Corey Hart won his arbitration case against the Brewers. That means he will earn $4.8 million next season instead of the $4.15 million the Brewers had proposed.
These decisions are all based on “comps,” or comparisons to already-set salaries of players similar in terms of service time and performance. Neither side has been willing to discuss its strategy, but it seems very likely to me that Hart’s representatives from CAA Sports, including his lead agent, Jeff Berry, successfully made the comp to Jeff Francoeur of the Mets and/or Josh Willingham of the Nationals. And I’m guessing that the Brewers more likely argued that the precedent for Hart’s salary should be someone like Jeremy Hermida of the Red Sox.
All three are corner outfielders in Hart’s service class. Here’s a look:
Francoeur earned $3.4 million last season, just $150,000 more than Hart, and avoided arbitration when he settled with the Mets on a $5 million contract for 2010. For his career, Francoeur is a .271 hitter with 88 home runs, 400 RBIs and 15 stolen bases (Hart is a .273 hitter with 67 home runs and 260 RBIs). In 2009, the players so-called “platform year” in this case, Francoeur hit .280 with 15 homers and 76 RBIs in 593 at-bats. Hart, limited to 419 at-bats because of an emergency appendectomy in August, batted .260 with 12 homers and 48 RBIs.
Willingham, meanwhile, earned $2.95 million last season and avoided arbitration with the Nationals with a $4.6 million pact for 2010, which was less than Hart’s filing number but fell on the player’s side of the midpoint between Hart’s proposal and the Brewers’. Willingham also had a better platform year, batting .260 in 2009 with 24 home runs — remember his two grand slams on July 27 at Miller Park? — and 61 RBIs in 427 at-bats. For his career Willingham has a .263 average, 87 home runs and 260 RBIs.
Hermida earned $2.25 million from the Marlins in 2009 and had a very similar platform year to Hart, batting .259 with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs. For his career, Hermida has played in 516 games (vs. Hart’s 521) compiled 1,708 at-bats (to 1,831) and batted .265 (to .273) with 57 home runs (67) and 210 RBIs (260).
Hermida filed for $3.85 million in arbitration and the Red Sox countered at $2.95 million. They settled last month at $3.345 million, or $55,000 less than the midpoint.
In the end, Hart’s argument won out. Now the Brewers are 2-for-4 in arbitration hearings since the process was instituted in 1974. According to the Biz of Baseball’s Maury Brown, Major League clubs have won 280 cases to the players’ 208 wins, with
11 10 cases still on the docket this year. Tim Lincecum and the Giants reportedly avoided a big one with a multi-year agreement on Friday.
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