The Reds avoided arbitration with starter Mike Leake and relievers Sam LeCure and Alfredo Simon earlier today, but were not able to do so with starter Homer Bailey and flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman. As a guest on The C Dot Show earlier, Reds vice president Bob Miller (who handles the arbitration cases for the club) said that the arbitration process “works poorly”.
The full context of the quote, via Jordan Kellogg on Cincinnati.com:
“It works poorly,” Miller said when asked how arbitration works. ”Someone once said that it’s such a good idea that no other sports league adopted it, so that tells you how good of an idea it is.”
Miller pointed out some incongruity in the salaries of starters and relievers as well. “Here’s the ridiculous part: First-year arbitration-eligible closers make more than the best starting pitchers. … It’s out of whack, it’s a very poor process and we muddle through it.”
He’s not exactly wrong. Braves closer Craig Kimbrel filed for $9 million, which is the third-highest reported amount that we know of so far. A $9 million salary would be the sixth-highest among all arbitration-eligible players this off-season, behind Max Scherzer ($15.525 million), David Price ($14 million), Chase Headley ($10.525 million), Chris Davis ($10.35 million), and Jim Johnson ($10 million). It would rank ahead of Rick Porcello ($8.5 million) and Kyle Kendrick ($7.675 million).
Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.
Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.
Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.
As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.