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Peaceful, Positive Precedent to Zimm's Arbitration Case

The science of baseball's arbitration system, for both the player and the team, is in finding historical comporables that best support your side's argument. Each side submits its carefully calibrated salary figure based on that science, and if it reaches a hearing, each side argues its case based on that science.

But here, with no financial stake in the outcome, we're more interested in an amicable solution that benefits all sides, including fans. So we have located an historical precedent to the Ryan Zimmerman arbitration case -- the one that Really Matters for the Nationals -- that should, we hope, satisfy everyone.

As Chico reported yesterday, Zimmerman's agents submitted a salary figure of $3.9 million for 2008, his first year of arbitration eligibility, while the Nationals submitted a figure of $2.75 million.

Now, let's line up those figures against our historical comparable, which comes from one year ago, involving a player we will call, for now, Player B (who ultimately settled his case before the hearing):

Player Age Serv. Time Pos Team Arb. Fig. Player Arb. Fig. Midpoint Settled
Player B 28 3.093 1B/3B $2.525M $3.7M $3.1125M $3M
Zimmerman 24 3.032 3B $2.75M $3.9M $3.325M ???

And here are the players' statistics (we're leaving out defensive stats, although both are considered excellent fielders) through their last pre-arbitration season:

Player Gs HRs RBI BA OPS
Player B 408 37 199 .280 .817

Click to the jump to find out who Player B is, if you haven't already figured it out.

As you may have guessed, Player B is Boston's Kevin Youkilis.

After settling his arbitration case in 2008 (for an amount below the midpoint of his figure and the team's), he went on to have an MVP-caliber year -- 29 homers, 115 RBI, .312 batting average, .959 OPS -- and was rewarded earlier this week with a four-year, $40 million extension.

I imagine a similar outcome to the Zimmerman case would make everyone around here happy, no?

By Dave Sheinin  |  January 21, 2009; 2:25 PM ET
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Offer 3.5. Better than mid-point, but his position on the team is different.

Posted by: Catcher50 | January 21, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Dave, a good comparison, but "the elephant in the room" is that Youkilis was surrounded by far superior offensive talent w/ the Sawx; Zimmerman has built his numbers by and large in a vacuum in DC. Souldn't a player who has done as much offensively with far less assistance be better rewarded?

Posted by: BinM | January 21, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse is reporting that the Braves are trying to lure Don Sutton away from Mr. Angelos' Sports Network so that he can be on their radio team. Nothing official, but apparently the Braves are delaying an annoucment of their new radio team due to difficulty in getting Sutton out of his contract.

Posted by: BGinVA | January 21, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Ticket prices are still too high.

Posted by: jctichen | January 21, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

These are seats to a baseball game, not pieces of real estate. No sense holding onto vacant seats, while waiting for the economy to get better.

Posted by: jctichen | January 21, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what Tom Paciorek is doing these days?

Posted by: ramgut | January 21, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

"I wonder what Tom Paciorek is doing these days?"

Screaming an incoherent YEEARRGHHH at the latest jammage?

Posted by: Brian_ | January 21, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

The Nats need to sign Zimmerman or stop calling the "Face of the Franchise". The Nats are marketing him to the fans, but he will be gone to NY, Boston, Chicago, or LA in 2-3 years if not signed soon.

Posted by: Batboy05 | January 21, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

BinM - throw out the RBI column (And runs, which are not in Dave's numbers). In theory, Youk might have had protection, if that has an effect, but he was also playing in the league and division with the better reputation.

Youk's numbers are probably closer to FotF than the comparable discussed last year - Garret Atkins.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 21, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

This is a fair comparison. There are pros and cons on each side.

Youk took a "hometown discount" according to him. However, Youk was 3rd in the MVP voting last year and won a Gold Glove at 1st base. However, he can also play 3rd.

Zim's numbers are good, but they are trending in the wrong direction, while Youk is trending in the right direction. Zim has been hurt, but that plays into the equation both ways.

I think that giving Zim a contract at $40-$45M for 6 years is a reasonable deal.

Posted by: NatsWin | January 21, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

ugh...please sign him soon...please!!

Posted by: mharman1 | January 21, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Sign him, sign him, sign him!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | January 21, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I still believe part of the trend (discounting the '08 injuries) is the realative difference in the quality of bats around him in the lineup.
Youkilis was hitting in the #2 or #6 slot most often for the Sawx, and either leading into or coming after the likes of BigPapi, Manny & Drew. Over the same period, Zimmerman has anchored the #3 slot, lead most often by Guzman or FLop, and followed by NJohnson / DaMeat or the Cecil B. DeMille production the team ended up with last year.
He's a Brooks Robinson-strata 3B with the glove, surrounded by the "Bad News Bears" in the lineup. Offer him an Adkins/Braun level contract over the next 5 years, give him a little more support in the lineup & maybe the LaC contingent will quiet down for a little while.

Posted by: BinM | January 21, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Youk is four years older and admittedly took a "hometown" discount as his wife if from there. he said as much in the presser after he signed his contract. doubt Zim at this point is going to be willing to do that unless things turn around in a BIG hurry.

Posted by: bottomfeeders10 | January 21, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Just to add fuel to the Lerner's = CHEEP file, the Washington Nationals are one of two teams to 1) have multiple players eligible for arbitration in 2009, and 2) fail to sign any of them prior to the exchange of numbers. The other qualifying team = the Cincinnati Reds.

I admit to being a Lerner / Kasten "plan" backer for the last two years, but this is just penny-smart but pound-foolish behaviour. Every day, a little more of the fans' trust & goodwill goes by the wayside.

Posted by: BinM | January 21, 2009 5:33 PM | Report abuse

BinM - Come on. You must be fair when comparing. 2 of the players [Willingham and Olsen] came to the team in an arbitration year, and S. Hill is lucky he wasn't cut.

The problem at hand is that the team doesn't have any long term signed players unless you count the young players where you have them for their first 6 years of service.


This franchise needs to have the Franchise and Face of the Team player signed long-term. Give him 8 years for $55 million and let's get it done. You will sell more tickets and show the fanbase that you can commit long-term.

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | January 21, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

you may be yelling for the Lerners to sign him now, and I'm sure they do (it's cheaper to sign now than pay later.) But Zim has already publicly said that he won't sign a long term deal now. What makes you think that he would change his mind?

Posted by: swang30 | January 21, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Similar numbers with Yuke. Hmm, couldn't you just see Zim playing 3B for the Sox in a few years, replacing a retiring Lowell? That's the path Zim is heading down unless the Nats get serious about building a winner and, oh yeah, paying the FOF.

Posted by: AshburnVA | January 21, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

I would LOVE to have Wimpy back in the booth, hated to see him go after only 1 year

Posted by: NatsMan21 | January 22, 2009 3:04 AM | Report abuse

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