- Feb. 22: Pitchers and catchers first workout.
- Feb. 27: First full-squad workout.
- March 2: Start of a 10-day window during which teams can renew contracts of unsigned players. As of the start of this week, 15 members of the 40-man roster are still unsigned.
- March 4: First Spring Training game at Giants in Scottsdale.
- March 6: First Spring Training home game at Maryvale Baseball Park, vs. Giants.
- March 17: Deadline, at 1 p.m. CT, for clubs to request release waivers on players and owe only 30 days’ termination pay. But remember that players on multiyear contracts are guaranteed their salaries.
- March 19: Last date to assign certain injured players to Minor League clubs. To qualify, players must have less than three years of Major League service time and have not appeared in the Majors the previous season.
- March 26: Earliest date a club may backdate a placement on the 15-day disabled list.
- March 31: Last date to request release waivers on players and owe only 45 days’ termination pay. After 1 p.m. CT on this date, contracts become guaranteed. This could potentially come into play for someone like Dave Bush, who is vying for a spot in the rotation. His $4.215 million salary doesn’t become guaranteed until Opening Day, so it’s possible the Brewers could cut him loose to restore some payroll flexibility.
- April 2-3: Exhibition games vs. Tigers at Miller Park.
- April 4: Clubs must submit 25-man rosters.
- April 5: Opening Day at Miller Park against the Rockies.
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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Pitchers Chris Narveson and Cody Scarpetta agreed to terms on 2010 contracts Wednesday, leaving the Brewers with 15 players still unsigned on the 40-man roster.