Most modern MLB fans can probably agree that the paydays for our favorite players tend to be getting higher and higher. To some degree we should all be able to agree that the top end salaries are somewhat ridiculous even to those who seem to most deserve it. There is something to be said however for a player just asking for what the going rate is for top players at his position and that is what Craig Kimbrel has done. He is heading to an Arbitration Hearing with the Atlanta Braves however because they don’t want to meet his figure.
Here is the issue. Most of the time the Braves are a team that non-tenders the lower end players and agrees to terms with the players filing for arbitration who are substantial members of the team. Not since 2001 have they actually had to go to a hearing but they will this season. Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward are also heading to a hearing with the Braves GM Frank Wren but their figures are very close so it is really no big deal.
Kimbrel filed for a raise to $9M for the 2014 season. That is a substantial raise from his $655,000 2013 salary. Obviously most of us would kill for the 2013 figure for six months of one year of our lives but just play the numbers game with me for a minute. Over the last three seasons no one has been a better closer than Kimbrel. He has been the most consistent man closing games in MLB.
The Washington Nationals are paying Rafael Soriano closer $14M while the Detroit Tigers signed Joe Nathan for over $10M at the age of 39 for a few years. All top closers are getting a deal in the 9 to 10 million per year range. It seems that Kimbrel, for being the best of the crop and the one with the most arm life in front of him, is being more than reasonable asking for $9M and will probably win the case.
Don’t think it is a big personal issue for him and the Braves however as it is simply numbers and business. I doubt seriously that the Braves would mind paying the game’s best closer what he is filing for but they are probably just thinking, “Hey what if we won and he makes $2.5M less?” For the Braves that could mean a couple more signings of non-roster invites.
Both sides will be friends throughout the process so don’t worry about that. When the Braves lose this case they probably will shrug and write Kimbrel’s checks without pause. It’s the business numbers game of baseball and don’t you just have to love it? No? Well, I hate it too but at least most players in the league are reasonable like Kimbrel is and don’t feel the need to ask for more money than everyone else on the planet.