Baltimore Orioles: Arbitration not an issue

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In case you haven’t been following, the Baltimore Orioles have done a great job in getting their arbitration-eligible players signed for 2015. Most recently, Zach Britton agreed to his contract this past week. The Orioles have only lost one arbitration case since the beginning of Peter G. Angelos’ tenure as owner, and that was in 1995 with pitcher Ben McDonald. Since then, each time the Orioles have gone to an arbitration hearing with a player, they’ve won. Most recently, pitcher Brad Bergesen went to arbitration against the Orioles and lost in 2012.

Courtesy of Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The idea however is to not have to go to arbitration at all, and in fact the O’s seem to be fairly good at ensuring that doesn’t happen. It’s really a process that not only can cause ill feelings on both sides, but one that makes little sense. The player is in effect arguing that he’s worth more than the team wants to give him. The team is arguing that the player isn’t as good as he thinks he is (or often as good as his agent thinks is probably closer to the truth). So in essence it’s one side saying I’m awesome, and the other saying you stink.

In some cases I suspect that players probably are being low-balled by teams trying to capitalize on a player’s youth to save on payroll. However if you look at a case like Brad Bergesen, it might be the opposite. I remember being shocked that he was willing to go to arbitration with the inconsistency that he had shown over time. Ultimately in many cases teams have every intention of making that player a long-term fixture with the team. However arguing that the player isn’t as good as he thinks he is works in stark contrast to that becoming reality.

Ultimately the good news is that the O’s are generally able to avoid this process, and come to an agreement with their players prior to the arbitration hearing. That also appears to be the case this year, which is an added bonus given the fact that a lot of contracts are up after 2015, including Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, and a few more.