It looks like Pirates took care of all of their arbitration cases this morning except for Nate McLouth and Paul Maholm. That means that John Grabow, Zach Duke, and Tyler Yates all joined Adam LaRoche in signing contracts. They’re all about in line with what’s expected for players of their experience levels with maybe only Duke’s being a bit higher than I expected (though not much higher).
Of course, the news is that the Pirates aren’t particularly close with the two best players of the sextet. Both McLouth and Maholm have asked for $3.8 million, while the Pirates have offered them $2.7 million and $2.65 million, respectively. My gut feeling here is that the Pirates are probably going to win both of these cases, if they go to an arbitrator.
Starting with Maholm, check out his most similar players at BBREF. Zach Duke, who just signed for $2.2 million, is the fifth comp. Maholm’s certainly better than Duke and he might be good enough to deserve the increase over Duke’s pay that he wants, but I think he’ll have a hard time making a case that he’s $1.6 million better than Duke when their career ERA is just 0.09 runs different. If he has another good year this year, his big raise will be coming this winter.
McLouth is a little harder to predict after last year. Like Maholm, there’s some reason to believe as fans that McLouth’s breakout year wasn’t a flash in the pan. Unfortunately for him, like Maholm he’s really only had one solid year in the big leagues and it seemsthat more often than not, these arbitration hearings are based on past production, not future projection (Side note: Corey has a good write-up of financial aspect McLouth’s long-term future in Pittsburgh). Which is to say that you and I and Neal Huntington know that Dave Littlefield screwed McLouth, but that doesn’t necessarily wins his arbitration case this year.
And that’s it. Huntington seems optimistic that progress can be made with McLouth and Maholm. If I had to guess, I’d bet they work something out with Maholm, but may have to go to an arbitrator with McLouth. It seems unlikely that anything’s going to get too contentious, though, which is all you can really hope for at this time of year.