The New York Yankees and Aaron Judge remain on track to have a salary arbitration hearing on Friday, according to Ken Rosenthal. Should said hearing transpire, it will dictate how much Judge will be compensated for his 2022 season. In theory, the two sides could reach an agreement before heading in front of an arbitration panel, but there appears to be been little sign of progress in those talks.
You might be wondering what the arbitration process is like, or what qualifies a player to be eligible for such a thing. Alternatively, you might want to know how this could impact the Yankees’ attempts to retain Judge for the long haul. So let us address 10 common questions about Judge, the Yankees, and the entire arbitration process.
1. What is arbitration?
Teams are allowed to dictate player compensation throughout the first few seasons of a player’s big-league career. After the player achieves a certain amount of service time, they’re allowed to pursue an arbitration hearing, which, in turn, enables them to earn wages that are more in line with their actual market value. Both the team and the player file a number they believe represents fair compensation for the upcoming year, and then present their case to a panel of arbitrators. Those arbitrators later dictate which side’s number is more fair.
2. Who is eligible for arbitration?
Generally, most arbitration-eligible players have more than three years and fewer than six years of big-league service time. There are some notable exceptions, as the top 22 percent of players with more than two years of service time are also arbitration-eligible under the “Super Two” designation. Judge, for his part, entered the year with more than five years of service time, putting him on the precipice of free agency.
3. What is service time, anyway?
It’s the measure that dictates when players become eligible for arbitration and/or free agency. Essentially, players are credited with a day of service for each day they’re on the big-league roster or on the big-league injured list. A player needs 172 days of service to earn a full year of credit, and six full year’s worth to hit free agency.
4. What happens during an arbitration hearing?
The team badmouths their player to a panel of arbitrators for the sake of saving a few bucks? Well, that might be overstating it, but the team and player sides are both granted time to make presentations on why their filing number represents fair value. These arguments are generally based on historical precedent and tend to be tailored around surface-level analysis — the stuff that non-experts can understand. As mentioned above, the panel rules on which side’s filing number best represents fair compensation.
5. Why are the hearings being held in-season?
Arbitration hearings are usually held during the early parts of February, before the official start of spring training. Major League Baseball’s owner-imposed lockout forced this year’s hearings to be held throughout the season.
6. How are players being compensated before their hearings?
The precedent dating back to the ’90s is that players are paid based on the team’s filing number prior to the hearing. Should the player then win the case, the team has to make right with the player over the remainder of the season.
7. How far apart are Judge and the Yankees?
The two sides are $4 million apart. Judge filed at $21 million; the Yankees filed at $17 million. It’s worth noting that MLB Trade Rumors’ arbitration model had Judge projected at $17.1 million. That suggests, at minimum, that the Yankees employ an internal valuation methodology that is similar to the one deployed at MLBTR.
8. Will the hearing impact extension talks?
Probably not. Yankees executive Brian Cashman told reporters in April that he had offered Judge a seven-year deal worth $30.5 million annually. Judge’s price has ostensibly gone up since. It’s possible that Judge won’t take kindly to the Yankees refusing to meet his ask for the 2022 season, but the odds are that he’s going to sign the most lucrative deal he’s offered this winter. If the Yankees are the ones making that offer, then it’s hard to see Judge holding this against them.
9. Are Judge’s 2022 stats admissible?
No. Judge is off to a terrific start to the season, hitting .301/.380/.647 (192 OPS+) with 25 home runs in his first 65 games. Alas, none of that matters in the hearing; the 2022 season, for all intents and purposes, may as well not exist so far as it goes. Judge’s production should help improve his future compensation, so it’s not all for naught.
10. How many more arbitration hearings are there?
Fittingly, Judge is the final hearing on the docket, according to Joel Sherman. For those who can’t get enough of this part of the game, rest assured that you won’t have to wait long until the next round of hearings. They’re only about eight months away.