Molina and Wellemeyer Arbitration Amounts

The St. Louis Cardinals along with catcher Yadier Molina and pitcher Todd Wellemeyer have exchanged their respective contract amounts for arbitration purposes.

On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals along with their starting catcher Yadier Molina and pitcher Todd Wellemeyer exchanged their respective contract amounts for arbitration purposes with Major League Baseball.

Molina and the Cardinals have a considerable difference in their view of the catcher's value, with a substantial delta of $900,000 - $1.850 million versus $2.750 million. In fact, only 16 of the 48 players that exchanged amounts this year have a larger gap to overcome. Molina's midpoint between the two amounts is only $100,000 higher than my earlier forecast of $2.3 million.

The Cardinals submitted just $875,000 for Wellemeyer, while the player and his agent countered with $1.325 million, leaving a very large relative delta of $450,000. Wellemeyer's midpoint of $1.1 million is $100,000 higher than my previous estimate.

It should be noted that outfielder Rick Ankiel came to terms with the club prior to the exchange of figures on a $900,000 base deal for 2008 that also exceeded my estimate by just $100,000. Achieving plate appearance incentives could increase Ankiel's total take to $1,000,000.

Player MLS F'cast Midpoint Club # Player # Delta
Yadier Molina 3.123 2,400      2,300  1,850     2,750   900
Todd Wellemeyer 4.009 1,000      1,100     875     1,325   450
Player MLS F'cast  Actual 
Rick Ankiel 4.033 800        900+

(all amounts are in $K, MLS=Major League service time)

According to the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the Players Association, the two sides have several options in the interim period between now and when a hearing will be scheduled for a date sometime between the first and 20th of February.

They can continue to negotiate, settling on a contract one year contract for 2008 for any amount. A likely starting point for a compromise is the midpoint between the amounts submitted by the player and team, though they are not bound to that.

A second option is to agree on a multi-year contract to include some or all of the player's remaining arbitration years. This is less likely, though a possibility for an especially valuable player such as Molina. As a point of reference, ten of the 49 arbitration cases that progressed as far as exchanging amounts last year ultimately resulted in multi-year deals.

The third path is the default. The two sides do not come to an agreement and prepare their cases for the actual arbitration hearing. This is highly unlikely to occur as the Cardinals' last hearing was in 1999, when pitcher Darren Oliver lost his case and had to settle for the Cardinals' submitted amount.

In the past, agreements have been made as late as the day of the hearing and even during them. Again, once the decision is turned over to the arbitrator, either the club's amount or the player's amount must be chosen.

Following is the record of the Cardinals recent arbitration activity. Since the beginning of the arbitration process in 1974, the club sports a 9-6 (.600) mark against the players. Overall, since the first hearings, MLB clubs have won on 273 occasions (.574) while the players prevailed 203 times.

Recent history should reinforce the desire of the players to settle prior to a hearing. With a 4-3 record in favor of ownership, 2007 became the 11th straight year that the majority of the decisions went in favor of the clubs.

In addition, the 2007 situations decided before the hearings also favored the clubs. Only four players signed one-year contracts for a figure above the midpoint of the two figures, while 12 players signed at the midpoint. The majority of the players, 23, settled for an amount below the midpoint prior to their scheduled hearing.

It is also worth noting that players that do settle prior to hearings are frequently able to secure performance bonuses based on playing time and awards bonuses in their contracts. This enables the gaps to potentially be closed somewhat.

St. Louis Cardinals Arbitration Summary – 1995 through 2008

Year # Filed Players Filed # Hear'gs  Player Wins Club Wins
1995 5 Cooper, Hill, Lankford, Rodriguez, Zeile 0 0 0
1996 5 Clayton, Fossas, Lankford, Osborne, Stottlemyre 0 0 0
1997 3 Clayton, Osborne, Painter 0 0 0
1998 2 Clayton, Mabry 0 0 0
1999 3 Botallico, Oliver, Renteria 1/Oliver 0 1
2000 5 Al. Benes, Bottenfield, Mohler, Morris, Renteria 0 0 0
2001 5 Al. Benes, Christianson, James, Morris, Paquette  0 0 0
2002 1 Polanco 0 0 0
2003 2 Drew, Tomko 0 0 0
2004 1 Pujols 0 0 0
2005 1 Marquis 0 0 0
2006 1 Marquis 0 0 0
2007 1 Taguchi 0 0 0
2008 3 Ankiel, Molina, Wellemeyer TBD    
13-Yr Total 38   1=2.9% 0=0% 1=100%

Brian Walton can be reached via email at

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