Noon central time today was the deadline for figures to be exchanged for players who are eligible for arbitration. The Orioles have four arbitration-eligible players who did not settle for contracts before this deadline. They are Jeremy Guthrie, Adam Jones, Brad Bergesen and Robert Andino.
For Guthrie, it's his third year of arbitration and final year before free agency, meaning he is in line for the biggest one-year payday after a $5.75M salary in 2011. Guthrie has asked for $10.25M while the O's countered with $7.25M, so they are $3 million apart.
Jones is in his second year of arbitration, due for a raise from his $3.25M 2011 contract. The team filed for $5M and Jones filed for $7.4M, leaving a difference of $2.4M.
Bergesen is eligible for arbitration for the first time, meaning he's not going to get a substantial increase over the major league minimum. He has requested $1.2M and the Orioles offered $800,000. These sides are only $400k apart.
Andino is also entering his first arbitration season, asking for a $1.6M salary where the Orioles believe he is worth $1M.
These salary figures were first reported by either Jon Heyman of CBS or Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Players and teams may settle at any time up until the beginning of the arbitration hearing, each of which will be scheduled some time next month. In an arbitration hearing, the player's representative and the team each have one hour to argue the case for why the player deserves the requested salary, typically using comparisons to other players who performed at a similar level with a similar amount of service time. After the arguments, the three-person arbitration panel can only select one figure or the other.
In recent years, the Orioles have tended to settle before having a hearing. This is advantageous for both sides as the arbitration process can be a cause of future contention: the player is in the room when the team is enumerating the player's faults as reasons for why he is deserving of less money. However, this will be the first time for the process in the Dan Duquette era, and he may have a different philosophy than some of his predecessors with regard to arbitration hearings.
Can anything be gleaned from Duquette's history with the Boston Red Sox for this purpose? In this article, Maureen Mullen of CSN New England notes that the last time the Red Sox went to arbitration was in Duquette's tenure, when they were unable to reach an agreement with RHP Rolando Arrojo. A starter who was traded to Boston in 2000, Arrojo worked mostly in relief for the Sox for two seasons. When his arbitration came up in 2002, he filed for $2.8 million and Boston filed for $1.9 million. So, we know that a decade ago, Duquette was at the helm and could not settle a difference of $900,000.
Considering the difference in 2002 dollars may not be the best comparison, because salaries have inflated in the past decade. For instance, in 2002 the minimum salary in MLB was $300,000 and in 2011 the minimum was $414,000. In that time, the average MLB salary has also increased, from about $2.3 million to about $3.3 million. On the other hand, Arrojo asked for nearly 50% more than Boston offered. Put in those terms, the O's arbitration offers look this way: Andino's asking price is 60% more than offered, Bergesen's is 50% more than offered, Jones' is 48% more, and Guthrie's is 41% more.
Does any of this matter at all? Maybe not. Duquette's been out of the game for nearly a decade, and the game done changed. Or maybe the game's the same: just got more fierce.