The Pirates couldn’t reach a deal with Ohlendorf, so their arbitration case was heard this afternoon with a decision expected tomorrow. As previously reported, the two sides ended up about $600,000 apart with Ohlendorf asking for a little over $2 million.
This is an intriguing arbitration case, and I think it would be even if I weren’t a Pirate fan. Ohlendorf wrote his senior thesis at Princeton on evaluating draft picks and so he obviously has a handle on how this kind of thing works. When the two figures were first reported, I wondered if Ohlendorf’s request was based on what he thought he was worth, or what number he thought he had to ask for to maximize his value. He wouldn’t be willing to see the case through if he didn’t think he had a chance to win his $2.025 million salary, though.
It’s also interesting because one of the easiest arguments against Ohlendorf and one that might carry weight with an arbitrator who doesn’t read FanGraphs would be his 1-11 record, but I doubt that’s something the Pirates front office puts much stock in. At the same time, these hearings can become contentious (the last arbitration case the Pirates had was in 2004 and Jack Wilson took things that were said very personally, if I recall correctly) and since this is the first arbitration case for Neal Huntington’s front office (whether or not Frank Coonelly, who presumably has more experience in this realm, took the point on this I don’t currently know), that has me a little worried. I hope the Pirates can argue their case (Ohlendorf’s struggle to stay on the field at times give them a pretty compelling argument, I think) without insulting Ohlendorf’s intelligence.