Diamondbacks Sign Craig Breslow

When the calendar rolls over to February it not only represents the final countdown to Spring Training but it also means the beginning of Salary Arbitration. For those who are not familiar with the concept of Salary Arbitration as it pertains to baseball, I wrote a brief overview a while back. The details outlined are from the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement but the concept is the same.

While I understand the need for salary arbitration and I see the value especially for those with limited major league service time I still cringe whenever I read about a team going to an arbitration meeting with a player.

It is a complete no-win situation. On the one hand a team is trying to manage its costs and control payroll so they present a number that is likely artificially low (at least from a player’s perspective). The player like any employee is trying to reach maximum value for the effort they give so they counter with a dream salary (at least from a team’s perspective). It is then up to an impartial arbitrator to determine which number is valid.

I say it is a no-win situation because it ends up where a team has to go before an arbitrator with the player in attendance and explain why the player does not deserve the money. There are statistics and examples given to show why the lower number is valid. The player of course has to sit there and listen to the team express all of his shortcomings.

At the conclusion of the arbitration hearing the team then has to try and mend fences by telling the player how valuable they are to the success of the team in the upcoming season. So as you can see it is a very mixed message that is getting delivered.

This is the biggest reason why the Arizona Diamondbacks do whatever they can to try and avoid having to go to arbitration with any of their players. In the history of the franchise the team has only gone to an arbitration hearing twice.

They lost the hearing with Damian Miller in 2001 and won the hearing with Jorge Fabregas in 1998. The Fabregas hearing was the most interesting. After the process then owner Jerry Colangelo was so frustrated with the process that he actually gave Fabregas the salary he asked for before the hearing just to let him know what the team really felt he deserved.

This season the Diamondbacks had three arbitration eligible players – Miguel Montero, Ryan Roberts, and Crag Breslow. Montero and Roberts both signed a one-year contract last week. Montero did so just minutes before his arbitration hearing.

Breslow was the final arbitration player and General Manager Kevin Towers worked hard to strike a deal with the left-hander who came to the Diamondbacks in the Trevor Cahill trade for Jarod Parker.

Breslow agreed to a one-year contract worth an estimated $1,795,000. This number represented just $5,000 below the midpoint between the $2.1 million he asked for and the $1.5 million the Diamondbacks offered.

This completes all of the free agent and arbitration contracts that the Diamondbacks have and allows the team to focus on the task at hand, beginning drills before starting Cactus League play on March 3.

Breslow will report to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on February 20th when pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report. After a day of physicals and meetings the first workouts will begin the next day. Finally we can focus on what happens on the playing field and not on the business side of the game.

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