UPDATE: According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Mets will hire Sandy Alderson as general manager. Worst kept secret ever? Expect an official announcement later this week, likely on Friday.
I have lived — and suffered — through the Mets making some pretty stupid decisions in my lifetime, but I really believe this will not be one of them.
Oh, who am I kidding? Even if it turns out to be yet another train wreck, you can count on me coming back for more.
8:35 PM: Former Athletics general manager and Padres CEO Sandy Alderson had his second interview — and third meeting — for the Mets’ general manager vacancy earlier today. Like former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes did yesterday, Alderson met with Mets owner Fred Wilpon, team president Saul Katz, and COO Jeff Wilpon.
Jeff Wilpon released the following statement at the completion of the day, according to the team’s Twitter feed.
“We will have no further comment on the process until we are ready to announce our new General Manager.”
Various media outlets expect the Mets to make an official announcement when the World Series has an off-day on Friday, though news will likely leak sooner. If you’ve followed this process at all, many have classified Alderson’s hiring as a foregone conclusion.
There’s something interesting deep in Ken Rosenthal’s latest notes column. It’s about arbitration, with Rosenthal reporting that the players union believes that all 30 teams will take a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration this winter.
If you’re unfamiliar with this, it breaks down thusly:
- In mid-January, teams and players who are eligible for arbitration will exchange proposed salary figures. The player says what he thinks he’s worth based on comparable players of his quality and service time and the team will propose a lower counter-figure;
- Generally, the parties then use these proposals as negotiable figures and eventually reach a compromise deal, usually near the midpoint between the two figures, avoiding arbitration;
- If a deal cannot be reached, they go to an arbitration hearing and arbitrators pick one of the numbers. They CANNOT give a compromise award. It’s either the higher player’s number or the lower team number.
In the past, a handful of teams — most typically the Blue Jays, Braves, Marlins, Rays, and White Sox — employed a “file- and-trial” approach, meaning that they treated the figure exchange date as a hard deadline after which they refused to negotiate and stood content to go to a hearing. As more teams have adopted this approach, there have been more arbitration hearings. As Rosenthal notes, last year there were more hearings than in any offseason for the past 25 years. Now, the union thinks, every team will do this. If they do, obviously, there will be even more hearings.
There is certainly an advantage to file-and-trial for a team. It makes the player and the agent work harder and earlier in order to be prepared to negotiate with the club before the file deadline. It also makes them work a lot harder to come up with a defensible filing number given that, rather than merely being an opening salvo in an extended negotiation, it’s something that they will certainly have to defend in open court. It’s also simple hardball. Teams have greater resources than the players and the agents and it’s less painful for them to pay for lawyers and hearing prep and to conduct the actual hearing. There’s risk to the team, of course — they might lose and pay more than a settlement would’ve cost — but teams are obviously concluding that the risk is worth it.
The only question I have is, if the union is right and all 30 teams will now proceed this way, how was that decided? Everyone suddenly, after several decades of arbitration, simply decided to take the same approach? Or was there, I dunno, a meeting in which the strategy was coordinated? Inquiring minds want to know!