We all know by now that the Indians avoided going to arbitration with Justin Masterson, Chris Perez, Shin-Soo Choo, Joe Smith and  Jack Hannahan, signing one-year contracts with all of them. Asdrubal Cabrera and Rafael Perez remain unsigned but have exchanged salary proposals with the Indians.

Cabrera is 25 and earned $2,025,000 last year.  He asked for $5.2 million; the Indians offered $3.75 million, a difference of $1.45 million. Rafael Perez is 29 and earned $1,330,000 last year. He asked for $2.4 million and was offered $1.6 million. The MLB arbitration hearings will take place February 1-21 in St. Petersburg, FL. If Cabrera and Perez come to an agreement with the Indians before their respective hearing dates, then all is hunky dory. If not, each side will present its case to the arbitrator. MLB practices Final Offer Arbitration (FOA), which means that the arbitrator selects one final offer over the other, the idea being that FOA (hopefully) encourages both parties to make reasonable offers/asks, rather than outrageous ones.  Maury Brown has a nice (albeit somewhat lengthy) explanation of the process  here.  The full list of all 2012 MLB arbitration figures is also at the Biz of Baseball (thanks again, Maury Brown).

The Indians haven’t gone to arbitration since 1991, with Greg Swindell (aka Flounder) and Jerry Browne (no, I don’t really remember him either).  Since 1974, and including 2011, arbitrators have ruled on behalf of the players 212 times and clubs 286 times. Although the number of players filing for salary arbitration varies per year, the majority of cases are settled before the arbitration hearing date. Typically, approximately 90 percent of the players filing for arbitration reach new agreements before a hearing. For all we know, the Indians are inking deals with both players right now, and I hope they are, especially with Cabrera.

I don’t know if Cabrera’s offensive breakout during the 2011 was a fluke or not, but it certainly can’t hurt his confidence to know he can smack the ball around. He made some amazing defensive plays during the 2011 season. It’s difficult not to get carried away with some of those plays, but last season, he had a .972 fielding percentage–6th in the AL and 11th in MLB, so even with all those behind-the-back catches and perfect throws, he was just a bit above average compared to his counterparts.  However, in 2009, he was 5th in the AL as a shortstop, with a .980 fielding percentage (for comparison’s sake, #1 that season was Derek Jeter at .986).  In 2010, he only played 95 games due to injuries.  He’s got the goods, and at age 26, he ‘s just entering his prime playing years. Cabrera makes us a better team. He has the goods defensively. He’s finding his power at the plate. Let’s not go through this again next year. No one-year contract. Please Mr. Antonetti, take a page from the Reverend Al Green.

For the curious, a little bit about arbitration eligibility:

From MLB.com: “A player with three or more years of service, but less than six years, may file for salary arbitration. In addition, a player can be classified as a “Super Two” and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 17 percent in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season. ”


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