25-year-old pitcher Mike Foltynewicz wrapped up his third season with the Braves having posted a 10-13 record with 4.79 ERA in 29 appearances. Because of the way the MLB collective bargaining agreement works, Foltynewicz is still a couple years away from real free agency, but, because he’s had at least three full seasons of service time, he is eligible to negotiate his salary and, if need be, take the matter before a salary arbitrator.
So that’s what he did. Last week, Foltynewicz and the Braves were unable to reach a mutually agreeable salary, and so the case went to arbitration. The case looked pretty good for our hero: this winter, and headed into this weekend, players held a 7-4 edge in arbitration decisions—by and large, salary arbitrators were siding with the salary demands of players.
Last season Foltynewicz made $544,000, a lot of money for you or me but not much for a guy who starts 28 major league games. The Braves, faced with bringing his salary in line with the value provided, offered him a raise, to the tune of $2.2 million for the 2018 season. But our boy Foltynewicz knows his worth. Uh uh, he said. $2.2 million? Are you kidding me? Foltynewicz’s counter proposal: $2.3 million, and not a penny less:
Pitcher Mike Foltynewicz went to salary arbitration with the Atlanta Braves over a difference of $100,000, the smallest gap in a hearing since 1994.
The 26-year-old right-hander asked Gary Kendellen, Mark Burstein and Walt De Treux for a raise from $544,000 to $2.3 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility. The Braves argued for $2.2 million during Friday’s hearing.
The previous case involving a gap that small was when New York Yankees first baseman Kevin Maas was awarded a raise from $225,000 to $425,000 rather than his $490,000 request.
I am totally here for players digging in for every dollar they feel they’ve earned, especially in a climate in which teams are letting dozens and dozens of qualified veterans stew, unsigned, in free agency. If they’re pinching you, pinch the motherfuckers right back. Mike Foltynewicz asked for $2.3 million, and the Braves tried to nickel-and-dime-and-hundred-thousand-dollar him, but he resisted. That, to me, makes him a damn hero.
Unfortunately, the arbitrators do not see the world the way Mike and I do: Foltynewicz lost in arbitration Saturday, and he will be stuck with Atlanta’s proposed $2.2 million salary. On the plus side, he’ll be making $2.2 million to play baseball this year. Silver linings, and so forth.