The business side of baseball: deals, negotiations, and arbitration

The continuation of my drive down Yankees memory lane will have to wait until tomorrow, I guess. Today, there is some things to clear up in the present day Yankee Universe.

First, the Yankees reached a deal with 2nd baseman Brian Roberts, who has spent the last 13 seasons with the Orioles and twice been an All-Star. He has led the league in stolen bases and doubles a few times in his career and is a well-known hitter in the AL East. Plus, he’s got a decent track record when it comes to defense. The deal is a 1 year, $2 million contract for the 36-year-old infielder. He takes Alex Rodriguez’s place on the 40-man roster now that Rodriguez is out for 2014 due to the arbitration ruling from this weekend.

And speaking of that ruling…

Rodriguez has since filed a federal lawsuit against MLB and MLBPA (the union) jointly citing “bad faith” in both camps and an intentional (and allegedly illegal) witch hunt investigation by MLB. Rodriguez’s lawyers are seeking to overturn the arbitration in federal court so that Rodriguez’s playing days are not over or even delayed slightly. Should the federal court toss the case out or rule in favor of the defense (MLB & Co.), Rodriguez won’t even be able to keep up his skills abroad or on any professional field in the league. And as I’ve said before, too much lapse in training could ultimately spell the end for his career before his contract ends in 2017. Rumors have been, of course, circulating already about a buy-out, future plans, repercussions, media circus, and more, and I think after the 60 Minutes interview featuring Rodriguez’s main lawyer Tacopina, Biogenesis founder Bosch, and MLB COO Manfred anything is certainly possible. Like I said in Saturday’s post, this whole thing is far from over.

And speaking of legal matters…

Five current roster players are up for arbitration. This is a normal move for players on a team’s roster after their initial contract has come to a close and before they are up for free agency; they can now put in for a salary negotiation, really the first step towards free agency, which is usually upcoming the following year. This year’s arbitration class features David Robertson, Brett Gardner, Ivan Nova, Shawn Kelley, and Francisco Cervelli — all are considered key players not just in the 2014 season but in the future of the Yankees. Had they not submitted their salary proposal today, the Yankees could technically pay them however they saw fit (but at least 80% of their 2013 salary). This process allows for the players to test out the waters of free agency before actually being a free agent, as both sides exchange numbers until they agree on a salary total for each player, something they begin on Friday. Should they not work out a deal, there is an arbitration scheduled for next month where an arbitrator hashes out the details and decides how much the Yankees will pay the player (arbitration = final word). And according to sources, the Yankees haven’t had to go all the way to arbitration since 2008; in other words, they work it out.

There are still a few holes I know they are looking to fill (read: pitching) for the 2014 season, but the team is certainly starting to shape into itself, or at least the 2014 version of itself. And we’re still about a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting. Really, like I said before, anything can happen between now and then.

And finally, should you find yourself in the Tampa area over the next couple of days, Derek Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation is hosting its 11th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic. I believe spots are still available to play and/or join the festivities that raises money for Turn 2. You can find out more at his website or now you can follow him on Twitter. (Welcome to the 21st century!) Now in its 19th year, Turn 2 is known for its amazing work in the Tampa, New York, and West Michigan areas with the local children and more specifically with its leadership training program dubbed “Jeter’s Leaders”, serving their community by promoting a healthy lifestyle and providing competitive college scholarships.

Go Yankees!

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