USSM Mailbag: Meche heads to arbitration
First in a series of slow-news-day posts.
Meche is going to make what in arbitration? Really?
Yeah, I know. Meche made $2.5m. He asked for $4.2m, and the team offered $3.35m. They may well yet agree, as they did last year, on a split-the-difference one-year contract.
But you might well be asking “What the hell? Why would Meche get even $3.35m?”
That’s a good question. Generally speaking, arbitration is not about performance. It’s about comparing the player to other players with similar service time and then determining where, within that range, the player’s performance lies. There are other factors that enter into it, but usually, playing time plays a huge fact. Take, for example, the Mariners v Brian Hunter, a case they lost:
M’s: He’s terrible! Look at his performance.
Arbitration board: If he’s so terrible, why did you play him all year?
M’s: We didn’t have any choice!
Arbitration board: We rule for Mr. Hunter. Mr. Hunter, if you could just walk over here and take this gigantic sack of money…
Hunter: I don’t walk, sorry.
Another thing that’s important to realize here is that given the two numbers, the arbitration board choses the one they think is closer to the established value. So say Meche’s number is horribly unrealistic. The M’s want the arbitrator to chose their number over Meche’s, which means they argue over what the best strategy is and then (historically anyway) they go in and lose the case.
Now, whether Meche’s numbers match up with people with similar service time, I don’t know. Meche’s service time is a thorny issue in itself, and I’m not a major league team with access to his info or that of his peers.
The problem is that Meche, given either of those numbers, is going to be really hard to trade. If it’s a couple months into the season and Meche has an ERA of 5, a $4.2m salary, and Livingston’s pitching well enough to force the issue, Meche probably heads to the bullpen (which might be a good move, but that’s another question) unless the Yankees are suffering another rotation meltdown.
Next up: more stuff!