2018 MLB Arbitration Visualized

Every year in the middle of January, the arbitration process starts with teams and players exchanging contract proposals. And every year — since 2015, at least — we produce a nice little data visualization using arbitration contract data from MLB Trade Rumors.

For those unfamiliar with the arbitration process, here’s the succinct explanation from years past:

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.

Alright! Let’s jump into the data viz!

2018 MLB Arbitration Contracts
SOURCE: MLB Trade Rumors

If you haven’t seen our annual visualization before, here’s our explanation:

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 12, 2018] will have grey lines. These can be filtered by clicking the “Filed” button.

This tool is intended to give readers an idea of the arbitration lanscape each year. Here are a few notes:

  • A lot of players will still settle, sign a contract, and avoid a hearing.
  • Mookie Betts has the largest team/player differential at $3 million. Typically, players and teams with higher differentials will settle.
  • The high-priced players like Josh Donaldson, Charlie Blackmon, and Manny Machado have already signed a contract to avoid arbitration. You can see those and other contracts like it by clicking the “Signed” tab.

I’ll be updating this as players sign extensions and arbitration hearings occur.

I build things here.

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6 years ago

I love when Sean gets down with some data visualization