Meche and arbitration
Many people have commented that the Mariners won’t pay Meche more than, say, $3m next year. Whether or not that’s true, Meche heads into arbitration with a 2004 salary of $2m. Now, normally that can’t go down by more than 20% — it’s in the CBA — except that I found a rule that says they can submit lower if in the last year his salary went up over 50% through arbitration.
So maybe I was totally wrong there, and the M’s could submit a arbitration figure of $600,000 if they wanted.
Arbitration doesn’t work on merit, though, as much as you’d think it would. It is, by and large, an issue of service time. Players headed into arbitration are compared to other players with equal service time and that’s the single largest determinant.
Other factors include performance (including clubhouse leadership and community love! no, really!), the player’s past compensation, “existence of any physical or mental defects” and the performance record of the club.
They’re unlikely to argue that Meche is injured, obviously.
They’ve got a performance argument to make, yes.
Meche isn’t known as a leader or pillar of the community.
The performance record of the club similarly provides the team with ammunition, though I’ve never heard of this being a factor in an actual arbitration hearing.
We should remember that even Brian Hunter, after his awful season as a Mariner, beat the team in arbitration. The M’s thrashed him and the arbitration panel said “if he was so bad why’d you play him so much?”
The argument for taking him to arbitration’s a lot like the Freddy Garcia argument, exceppppt.. if Meche was available for a minor league contract, many teams would bite. Given that teams were unwilling to trade for Meche last year, or claim his contract for nothing when they had the chance early in the season, it seems unlikely that they’d be able to take him to arbitration and move him.
In that case, the team’s going to face the same decision they did with Freddy, sort of: do you take the gamble on the money and hope he performs well enough that you can get something shiny in trade, or keep the money and see if it can’t be put to better use elsewhere?