Though the Brewers had several arbitration cases heading into the offseason, they managed to settle most of those before arbitration figures were exchanged last week. Only one case remained after all of those were settled: Chase Anderson. As a Super Two player, he qualified for arbitration a year early, and chase to exchange figures rather than come to an agreement beforehand. Here are the figures:
Team Amount: $2.45 Million
Player Amount: $2.85 Million
MLBTR Projection: $3.1 Million
We can already throw out the MLB Trade Rumors projection here. Anderson won’t make more than the $2.85 million he filed for at this point, so the $3.1 million is higher than he would have made. Of course, that still leaves the difference between the team’s amount and the player’s amount. Only $400,000 separates the two, which is small compared to the overall payroll, though still significant relative to the amounts.
There’s still time for the two sides to come to an agreement on the salary before the arbitration hearing, and hopefully they will to avoid a hearing. However, if this went to a hearing, which side would be more likely to win? Are both sides asking for fair amounts? To look into that, let’s check some recent starting pitchers in their first year of arbitration. Since cases generally consider the player’s last two years, we’ll do the same.
Here’s the first table, with recent players in arb year 1, as well as the stats from the year before.
Chase Anderson Arb Table 1
|Jeremy Hellickson||2014||$3.625 Million||174||31||12||10||5.17||4.22||6.98||2.59|
|Tom Koehler||2016||$3.5 Million||187.1||31||11||14||4.08||4.53||6.58||3.7|
|Ivan Nova||2014||$3.3 Million||139.1||20||9||6||3.1||3.47||7.49||2.84|
|Nathan Eovaldi||2015||$3.3 Million||199.2||33||6||14||4.37||3.37||6.4||1.94|
|Miguel Gonzalez||2015||$3.275 Million||159||26||10||9||3.23||4.89||6.28||2.89|
|Garrett Richards*||2015||$3.2 Million||168.2||26||13||4||2.61||2.6||8.75||2.72|
|Jeff Locke||2016||$3.025 Million||168.1||30||8||11||4.49||3.95||6.9||3.21|
|Wily Peralta||2016||$2.8 Million||108.2||20||5||10||4.72||4.84||4.97||3.06|
|Joe Kelly||2016||$2.6 Million||134.1||25||10||6||4.82||4.18||7.37||3.28|
|Erasmo Ramirez||2016||$2.375 Million||163.1||27||11||6||3.75||3.76||6.94||2.2|
|Rubby De La Rosa||2016||$2.35 Million||188.2||32||14||9||4.67||4.81||7.16||3.01|
|Drew Hutchison||2016||$2.2 Million||150.1||28||13||5||5.57||4.42||7.72||2.63|
|Tyson Ross*||2014||$1.98 Million||125||16||3||8||3.17||3.2||8.57||3.17|
|David Phelps*||2015||$1.4 Million||113||17||5||5||4.38||4.41||7.33||3.66|
In addition, here’s what other starting pitchers did two years before their first arbitration year, which is also considered.
Chase Anderson Arb Table 2
|Jeremy Hellickson||2014||$3.625 Million||177||31||10||11||3.1||4.6||6.31||3|
|Tom Koehler||2016||$3.5 Million||191.1||32||10||10||3.81||3.84||7.2||3.34|
|Ivan Nova||2014||$3.3 Million||170.1||28||12||8||5.02||4.6||8.08||2.96|
|Nathan Eovaldi||2015||$3.3 Million||106.1||18||4||6||3.39||3.59||6.6||3.39|
|Miguel Gonzalez||2015||$3.275 Million||171.1||28||11||8||3.78||4.45||6.3||2.78|
|Garrett Richards*||2015||$3.2 Million||145||17||7||8||4.16||3.66||6.27||2.73|
|Jeff Locke||2016||$3.025 Million||131.1||21||7||6||3.91||4.37||6.1||2.74|
|Wily Peralta||2016||$2.8 Million||198.2||32||17||11||3.53||4.11||6.98||2.76|
|Joe Kelly||2016||$2.6 Million||96.1||17||6||4||4.2||4.37||6.17||3.92|
|Erasmo Ramirez||2016||$2.375 Million||75.1||14||1||6||5.26||5.38||7.17||4.06|
|Rubby De La Rosa||2016||$2.35 Million||101.2||18||4||8||4.43||4.3||6.55||3.1|
|Drew Hutchison||2016||$2.2 Million||184.2||32||11||13||4.48||3.85||8.97||2.92|
|Tyson Ross*||2014||$1.98 Million||73.1||13||2||11||6.5||4.8||5.65||4.54|
|David Phelps*||2015||$1.4 Million||86.2||12||6||5||4.98||3.81||8.2||3.63|
Looking at these numbers, it’s clear that what Anderson is asking for isn’t out of line. In fact, it’s very reasonable for a starting pitcher in his first year of arbitration. If we focus in on the players closest to Chase Anderson, it’s even more reasonable.
The first case is Wily Peralta. Last year, he got $2.8 million in the first year of arbitration. In 2015, his 4.72 ERA, 4.8 FIP, and 5 K/9 is worse than Anderson in 2016. However, in 2014, his stats were better, which helps justify his $2.8 million salary.
A closer case would be Joe Kelly. While he pitched less than Chase Anderson in his two years prior to arbitration, his stats are very comparable to Anderson’s last two years. His $2.6 million is a little less than the midpoint for Anderson, so accounting for inflation, $2.65 million would be a very fair amount.
Of course, a case that could be used against Anderson is Rubby De La Rosa. His stats are also very comparable to Anderson. He pitched more in his year before year one of arbitration, and had a better FIP, K/9, and BB/9. However, two years before arbitration, he pitched less, and his stats were a little worse, which could also account for the difference in amounts.
Considering the small difference in the two amounts, as well as the comparables to Anderson, it would make sense for both sides to settle before the case goes to an arbitrator. The Brewers aren’t hurting for money, and both sides are legitimately fair. While the Brewers could choose instead to go internal for another starting pitcher, the fact that they tendered Anderson a contract means that they still want him around, and feel that he is worth what they would pay him in 2017.
Arbitration cases tend to be unpleasant for both sides. It can create bad blood between the two, as cases can revolve around the weaknesses of a player. Hopefully the sides can come to an agreement so this doesn’t need to go to a messy hearing, and find a middle ground that works for both of them.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.