Imagine you’re calling a plumber this morning to unclog your toilet. Say, oh, I don’t know, you were hosting a Super Bowl party, maybe you were a little drunk, and when your garbage disposal stopped working you just started flushing all the old food, smaller pieces of trash, and a substantial amount of junk mail down the toilet.
So, predictably, you’re now spending the first day of the NFL off-season ankle-deep in filthy sludge that’s further contaminated with old bits of ham cubes, bean dips, and the easiest of cheeses while you wait for the plumber to arrive. Now, say the plumber arrives and informs you that the going rate to take care of this sort of alcohol-fueled lavatory-misjudgment is $200. Correct me if I’m wrong, but when you’re in a bind and looking for a specific entity or fix, you’re not going to haggle. After all, this is a skilled tradesman making a house call in the United States, not a human-kidney dealer in a Marrakesh marketplace.
Consider the arbitration hearing that was avoided on Monday when Detroit Tigers’ starting pitcher, a skilled tradesman of sorts, Max Scherzer and Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski were able to agree on a one-year $6.725 million deal. Frankly, I’m surprised it went as close to an arbitration hearing as it did. Scherzer is coming off a season where he threw 187.2 innings, struck out 231 batters, and went 16-7—number that would make him an ace had he played for many of the teams in the bottom third of the league. Frankly, Scherzer is worth at least that much, if not more.
When you look at pitchers with similar stat lines as Scherzer, two pitchers, the Texas Rangers’ Yu Darvish and the Millwaukee Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo, stand out. In 2012, Darvish threw 191.1 innings, had 221 strikeouts, and went 16-9. Gallardo also went 16-9, while striking out 204 batters in 204 innings. For the upcoming season Darvish is making $9.5 million while Gallardo is making $7.75 million—both more than the $7.4 million Scherzer was initially asking for.
Like the aforementioned plumber, Scherzer’s has an ability that the free market has set a price at. I’m glad the Tigers’ brass was willing to loosen their purse strings, recognize the price tag for a entity like Scherzer, and negotiate a deal that both sides were satisfied with before we risked damaging our relationship with a great player through an arbitration hearing.