From Jeff Passan at ESPN.com on January 10, 2019:
With $3 million at stake, the Boston Red Sox wanted to create the most compelling argument possible against Mookie Betts without alienating or insulting him. So last January, as they tried to convince a three-person arbitration panel that Betts deserved the $7.5 million salary they were offering and not the $10.5 million he requested, the Red Sox fashioned a novel approach in the typically staid, lawyerly arbitration room: They played a video talking about how good Kris Bryant was.
The purpose, multiple sources in the room told ESPN, was not simply to lavish praise on the Chicago Cubs’ third baseman but to make their case: As great as Mookie Betts may be, he isn’t Kris Bryant. And in the world of arbitration — an opaque, wonky process that determines salaries for about a quarter of the league every year and has taken on significantly more meaning as economic turmoil roils the baseball landscape — the single most important factor is comparable players.
So when Betts won the first case of 2018, a year that saw the most hearings since 1990, it wasn’t merely a victory for him or a sign that Bryant, and his $10.85 million salary, was indeed a fair parallel. It reminded players that with the free-agent market spiraling and pre-free agency contract extensions increasingly rare, arbitration is among the last avenues for players to seek salary gains amid the sport’s financial correction.
Read the full article here: http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/25722707/jeff-passan-wild-wonky-world-mlb-salary-arbitration
Originally published: January 11, 2019. Last Updated: January 11, 2019.