The Texas Rangers signed pre-arbitration 9 players today, giving them a 29 of 41 players on their roster a contract for 2014.
The 9 players were, Tanner Scheppers ($515,179), pitcher Cory Burns ($502,638), outfielder Michael Choice ($502,000), outfielder Engel Beltre ($502,000), outfielder Jim Adduci ($501,000), pitcher Wilmer Font ($501,000) and Luis Sardinas, Roman Mendez and Lislverto Bonilla at $500,000.
@RangerBlake so choice is the 4th outfielder/DH?
— Orlando Munoz (@tatothetato) February 17, 2014
What does it mean pre-arbitration?
The MLB is structured in three tiers. On top you have the free-agents, who are players with 6 or more years in the majors. Then you have arbitration eligible, players with 3 – 6 years experience.
You should get the idea now, pre-arbitration is for the guys who are new to the league. Basically it is like you and I when we get a new job and go through our probation period. For baseball players, when they have less than 3 years of service, (172 days counts as a full year for the season). There are some other special circumstances. For example, collective bargaining agreement has something called the “Super Two” class. The Super Two class is when a player has over 2 years of experience and 86 days in the next season, and ranks in the top 22% of that service class. If a player is classified in the Super Two class, they are then arbitration eligible. This means that the Super Two class players are eligible for arbitration 4 times instead of 3 times.
So basically, there are three tiers also for players to get paid. On top, free agents can go to the open market and see what they’ll bring. Next, arbitration eligible players are able to come up with a mutual amount between the club. But the last group, pre-arbitration players pretty much will only get what a team is willing to pay them. Which is usually the league minimum at $500,000. If a team does give a player a raise, they can’t decrease it. The salary for a player must be at least 80% of the previous year’s amount.
Teams do negotiate with the players to help the process not be completely one-sided. You can tell from the Texas Rangers recent signings. Players can disagree with terms, but clubs can the simply renew the contract at the amount they desire.
This is why players like Mike Trout get paid so little (made $510,000 last year), compared to other players on his talent level. But it also gives teams the ability to test out talent and take advantage of some players while they can.