2016 MLB Arbitration Visualization

This past Friday, players who both (a) are eligible for arbitration and who (b) hadn’t yet signed a contract for the 2016 season exchanged salary numbers with their clubs for a possible arbitration hearing. If you aren’t familiar with the details of Major League Baseball salary arbitration, here it is very briefly: teams and players file salary figures for one-year contracts, then an arbitration panel awards the player either with the contract offered by the team or the contract for which the player filed. More details of the arbitration process can be found here. Most players will sign a contract before numbers are exchanged or before the hearing, so only a handful of players actually go through the entire arbitration process each year.

Last year, Alex Chamberlain and I worked with data from MLB Trade Rumors to create a data visualization for the players who went through some part of the arbitration process. This year, I’ve updated the visualization and added an interactive element to it. It covers every arbitration-eligible player who has either signed a one-year contract this offseason or has filed for arbitration. Players who signed multi-year extensions are omitted.

Three colored dots represent a different type of signing: yellow represents a mutually-agreed contract signed to avoid arbitration, red represents the award of the team’s offer in arbitration, and blue represents the award of the player’s offer. A gray line represents the difference in player and team filings. Only players with whom teams exchanged numbers on January 15, 2016 will have grey lines. These can be filtered by clicking the “Filed” button. The “Signed” button filters out players who have signed a contract for 2016; this will change as arbitration hearings occur. Finally, “All” includes every player represented in the graph.

The chart is sorted by either contract value or by the midpoint of the arbitration filings. The final contract value takes precedent over the midpoint since this represents the resolved value. Most players have a sizable different between their filing and the team’s filing, but a few players like Josh Donaldson, Kevin Jepsen, Didi Gregorius have much smaller discrepancies, so their filing point and midpoints are all close to one another.

I will be updating this graphic as players sign and hearings occur from now through February.

2016 MLB Arbitration Contracts
SOURCE: MLB Trade Rumors

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I code a bunch of things here. I really need to update my blog about statistics at stats.seandolinar.com.

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What’s the procedure if/when a team submits a higher suggested salary than the player?
Given how close some of the offers appear to be, does this ever happen?


It seems unlikely there would be that little communication between teams and players.