published on February 23, 2017 - 7:20 AM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

(AP) — San Diego Padres first baseman Wil Myers landed the biggest raise of all the hefty salary increases in arbitration.

The 168 players eligible for arbitration as of mid-December averaged a 113 percent raise, according to a study by The Associated Press on Thursday.

Myers received a 26-fold increase from $523,900 to an average of $13.8 million as part of an $83 million, six-year contract.

St. Louis right-hander Carlos Martinez was next with a 18-fold hike from $539,000 to an average of $10.2 million in a $51 million, five-year deal, followed by Atlanta outfielder Ender Inciarte with an 11-fold raise from $523,000 to an average of $6.1 million in his five-year deal worth $30,525,000.

All three were eligible for the first time.

Last year, players who filed for arbitration averaged a 96 percent increase.

Under baseball’s new labor contract, players no longer have to go through the formality of filing. The AP calculated its figures based on those eligible shortly after the Dec. 2 deadline for teams to offer 2017 contracts to unsigned players.

The average salary of eligible players this winter rose from $1.79 million to $3.82 million
Nine players received multiyear contracts, the fewest since nine among the players who filed for arbitration in 2004.

Teams won eight of 15 decisions, the most hearings since clubs went 10-6 in 2004. An increasing number of teams refused to negotiate after the exchange of proposed arbitration salaries on Jan. 13.

“In this brave new world of file and trial, we simply find more teams finding their way into the arbitration room, and that was never the goal or backdrop of the process,” union head Tony Clark said. “It was the last vestige of opportunity to see if agreement can be found. If it can’t be, let the independent arbitrators make that decision.”

Players with at least three but less than six years of major league service are eligible for arbitration along with the top 22 percent by service time among players with a minimum two years but under three. Players with six years of service can become free agents when their contracts expire.

New York Yankees President Randy Levine, Dellin Betances and the pitcher’s agent got into a public spat after the reliever lost his case last week. Betances will earn $3 million rather than his $5 million request.

“The arbitration process is imperfect. But one of the imperfections is it can become contentious at times,” Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “I think it’s unfortunate when agents take to the press in order to make a case and even more unfortunate when people are forced to respond or feel they need to respond. I don’t think that’s a positive step for the sport. I think it’s better that whatever happens in arbitration stays in the room. It’s better for all involved.

“While it’s imperfect and it can be contentious, we have never found an alternative to cover that year three through year six that was better than what we had and more acceptable to the parties than what we had. And so while not perfect, like many things in life, it’s persistent.”

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