Prior to today, the San Francisco Giants only had one potential arbitration-eligible case in Will Smith. Arbitration is not ideal, but it appears the Giants will not be heading to arbitration for the fifteenth straight year.
Today is the deadline for players and teams to exchange arbitration figures. Will Smith and the San Francisco Giants never got to that point:
At the start of this season, the Giants had five arbitration-eligible players. They agreed to terms with both Sam Dyson and Joe Panik at the non-tender deadline. Additionally, they non-tendered Gorkys Hernandez and Hunter Strickland.
On a side note: Will Smith at $4.225 million for 2019 does give cost certainty for teams interested in trading for him. This does not enhance his trade value in any way, but it provides further clarity about his financial obligations.
So, with the signing of Smith, the Giants will not go to arbitration. This is a strategic choice on their part. They are seemingly aiming to maintain player-organizational relations by avoiding arbitration.
Going to arbitration is not ideal. This is because the team and the player exchange salary figures for what each party thinks the player is worth. The player will suggest a higher salary than what the team offers. Generally speaking, service time is factored in as well as on-field performance.
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If the player and team cannot agree on a salary, then they go to arbitration. Both the team and player’s representatives present their case in front of a panel of arbiters.
Once the cases have been heard, the arbiters must vote in favor of the team or the player. The player gets assigned a salary based on which case wins. Both parties can still work on salary terms before the hearing.
Essentially, the team will make a case for why the player is not worth the player’s recommended salary. This is not ideal if the team is eventually planning on retaining the player on a long-term deal. They still can, but it is not ideal.
Now that Smith is signed, the San Francisco Giants will not go to arbitration for the fifteenth straight year. The last player that went to arbitration was A.J. Pierzynski.
Of course, Pierzynski won his case, and was awarded a $3.5 million salary in 2004. This should have been seen as a foreshadowing of things to come. Pierzynski did not endear himself to Giants fans. The arbitration case was only the starting point in a tumultuous relationship between the Giants and Pierzynski.
With Smith’s salary figure set in stone, the San Francisco Giants can focus on other important things. Like adding new food options to their menu, or making the bleacher seats more comfortable. These are the things that bring the fans to the stands.