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MLB Storylines: Pestano loses arbitration case

MLB Storylines: Pestano loses arbitration case
February 9, 2014
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In this MLB News and Notes segment, I will be giving occasional reports on the latest news and rumors throughout the MLB. I also will try to tweet news and rumors as I see them, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: @ajnicholsIBI.

Here are the stories from Saturday, February 8th.

Top Stories

  • Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano lost his arbitration case on Friday. Pestano had requested $1.45 million for the 2014 season, and the Indians countered with a $975K offer. The arbitrator ruled in the favor of the Indians, meaning Pestano will earn $975K in 2014. It was the first arbitration case for the Indians since 1991.
  • The Dodgers signed lefty starter Paul Maholm to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. Maholm can earn an additional $5 million in incentives. Earlier in the day on Saturday, there were reports stating that Maholm may only receive a minor league deal with Los Angeles, but the veteran was able to net a low-base, incentive-laden Major League deal.

News and Notes

  • Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Orioles are talking with lefty starters Joe Saunders and Chris Capuano. Earlier in the day,'s Roch Kubatko said that Baltimore's top priority remains a top-of-the-rotation starter.
  • According to Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego, Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal is ahead of schedule in his rehab from ACL surgery and he hopes to be ready for the season opener. Starting off the season with San Diego would put Grandal back on the field less than seven months after his surgery, which usually requires about a year of rehab.
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick said that the Reds and starter Homer Bailey remain extremely far apart in contract talks. Crasnick went on to say that barring large concessions from one or both sides, it appears likely that Bailey will hit the free agent market after the 2014 season.
  • Darren Wolfson of reported that Johan Santana will throw for interested teams sometime in the near future.

User Comments

February 11, 2014 - 8:16 AM EST
I thought you were serious. Sorry.

The Dolans paid a huge price when the bought the team. I'm tired about people taking cheap shots at an organization that wants to stay within budget in a sport that does not have a salary cap. I never knew if you stay in budget you are considered cheap not smart.
February 11, 2014 - 12:14 AM EST
I'm tired of it too. I was being facetious.
February 10, 2014 - 8:25 AM EST

I guess signing Swisher and Bourn were bargain basement /clearance sale last year. What is your the definition of cheap?

I'm tired of people calling the Dolans cheap. I believe Jacobs was cheap also. He did get the city of Cleveland to pass the sin tax in order to build a new facility in order to keep the franchise in Cleveland. Then sold the team to the Dolans knowing the 90"s gravy train was about to end.

February 10, 2014 - 4:58 AM EST
Now we are at the point where we just assume that Pestano could have settled for 1.2mil????

I do see what is going on here though....

Pestano is greedy for wanting more money

Dolan is cheap for not signing guys

I bet Bob Feller was a jerk for charging money for and autograph too
Joe Chengery
February 10, 2014 - 1:42 AM EST

Thanks- I thought Pestano had fallen off sooner in 2012- just had the years mixed up. I remember some had said that he was being overused by Acta, partly why he fell off, but he was much more hittable in the second half of 2012, and never really surfaced in 2013. Will he in 2014 One of the many interesting questions to Indians' Spring Training 2014.
Joe Chengery
February 10, 2014 - 1:39 AM EST
Ugh! "2007," not "2097" - typing on an iPad can be harder than one might think, lol. :-)
Joe Chengery
February 10, 2014 - 1:37 AM EST
Obviously, that should say "2097," not "2097." I don't have a crystal ball for the 2097 Indians, lol! :-)
Joe Chengery
February 10, 2014 - 1:36 AM EST
The maven- interesting point- perhaps.

Sean- as I said, Pestano has done it for longer than Lewis did, so it's not surprising to me that those numbers are that lopsided in Pestano's favor; Lewis fell off quickly in 2008.

My concern and point was that how Pestano has fallen off is much the same way Lewis did in 2008. The question is is whether Pestano can get back to the level he was at previously; if he shows more of the same diminished velocity and command that he did in '13, the comparisons to Lewis' fall will become more pronounced, as Lewis also showed diminished velocity and command in 2008. In 2097, Lewis was regularly showing low to mid-90s with his fastball and had a solid off speed pitch (change up? Slider? Not sure off the top of my head). When 2008 Spring Training came around, he was hitting mid- to upper-80s with his fastball. I believe I recall him (or the media) mentioning that he needed to throw more and loosen up his arm to build up the velocity; however, that never really happened.

If I'm correct, I think someone mentioned that last year when Pestano's velocity dropped so sharply that he was barely touching 90, saying that he needed to throw more, build back up the arm strength, and he'd regain the velocity, but as far as I know, that didn't happen- I think I heard he was reaching 92-93 on the gun at best last year, even in Columbus.

That's the similarity I was talking more about, as well as the dropoff in performance.
Joe Chengery
February 10, 2014 - 1:22 AM EST

Appreciate the post, though that was a rhetorical question, and your point is exactly what I was attempting to get across to Mike on his point why he's surprised more MLers don't try it. You said it perfectly: It's risky, and something you don't want to do unless it's a last resort, especially for a player, and especially for a player who hasn't performed well in a year and who is not guaranteed a spot in that bullpen to start the season.

That's why it was a little surprising to me why he would do it; it's surprising to me in Tomlin's case because the amounts aren't far away, an amount you'd think the two sides would be able to bridge together without going to arbitration. I can see why Brantley would do it, and to a slightly lesser extent, Masterson (only because the dollar amount differential is larger and the fact that Masterson's track record has been anything but consistent).
February 9, 2014 - 3:21 PM EST
Arbitration is a bigger gamble for the young player than the club.As Brandon stated,Pestano lost over 200,000 by going to arbitration instead of settling.
I believe the reason Pestano,Tomlin ,Masterson (the union rep) and Brantley are going into the arbitration process is that the players union wants them to.
They don't want teams like the Indians,who haven't had an arbitration case since Greg Swindell,getting complacent about the process and low balling figures to get cheaper settlements.
February 9, 2014 - 2:27 PM EST
Vinnie made 500k last year. So he nearly doubled his pay, unreal. These guys want to break the bank after a good year. Fine. But fair is fair. After a bad year, how about a pay cut? But pro sports isn't the real world, I know.

Pluto wrote that the last two months of '12, he had a 4.39 era and gave up 4 hrs in 27 innings. So he really hasn't pitched well since July of '12!! Just something to keep in mind.
February 9, 2014 - 2:21 PM EST
Joe - The reason everyone doesn't try it is because it's risky.

Look at Pestano, if he didn't go to arbitration, he would be making probably 1.2 million instead of 975K. These MLB teams are smart, they've been doing it for a while and they know the value of their players. Teams have won 286-214 through 2012.

I don't see why wanting more money would hurt your standing in the organization. If Pestano pitches well, he's a lock for one of the bullpen spots IMO.
February 9, 2014 - 2:14 PM EST
I don't see much of a comparison between Pestano and Lewis. Pestano was one of the most dominant setup men is baseball for 2 years. Lewis had success across 26 games in '07 and then was mostly not good afterward. Pestano's bWAR '11-12 was 4.4, Lewis's in '07-08 was 1.4.
Joe Chengery
February 9, 2014 - 1:59 PM EST
Mike, you have to be more judicious, just as you do in the "real world." If that were the case, why doesn't every Major Leaguer try it? Why did the Indians not have a case for 23 years. The main reason for the Indians and others who copied it was the idea of buying out the arbitration years and maybe the first year or two of free agency to give the player added security, but also to avoid that process. Nobody looks forward to going to arbitration; that's why it's a "last resort," not a first option.

And, you may have forgotten how good Lewis and Perez were in 2007; they were main reasons why the Indians won the Central that year. Pestano did for a bit longer, but Lewis was just as dominant- the triumvirate of Lewis, Perez, and Betancourt was arguably as good of a threesome in the backend of the Indians' bullpen since the days of Plunk, Assenmacher, and Mesa in 1995-1996.
February 9, 2014 - 1:45 PM EST
I just disagree. As long as you aren't taking it personal I don't see why you wouldn't try for the extra money. And the Indians would be silly to hold a grudge as well.
February 9, 2014 - 1:37 PM EST
Mike, arbitration is a rarity for a reason. Sure this is a business and sure Vinny had some decent money at risk - but only to a layman not in the game.

Why don't more players and their agents do it? Because people are still people and the process is more like a nasty divorce than an amicable split.

It's designed so to make it as unattractive as possible to both parties.

It is never preferred and 500k for a reliever once as good as Pestano doesn't rise to the level expected, which is usually multiple millions.

It was a bad move. It amounts to suing your employer over a really small beef, which in turn makes other employers all the less likely to consider you when you leave.

Pestano was once an A-list setup man - and he needs to prove he can play at the same level. If he does hell get no small amount of offers to sign - and at market rate - but he will always have an astrick attached now....

buyer beware - sign at your own risk.
February 9, 2014 - 1:01 PM EST
Jensen Lewis was a rookie in 2007. There is a huge difference. He was also never as effective as Pestano has been.

Also there was a lot to gain by going to arbitration.... about half a million.
Joe Chengery
February 9, 2014 - 12:03 PM EST

Thanks for clarifying; I was thinking of 2012 as being 2011- apologies. I do remember the falloff late that season (thinking it was late August to early September, and some wondered if he had been overused in 2012), just the wrong year.

While that may have increased his odds a bit in my mind (20-30%), the fact he really didn't find it at all in 2013 still didn't give his arbitration case a great chance (still probably the worst of the four because of the disparity in the dollar amount and the poor 2013).

I don't recall if there was concern over Pestano's velocity late 2012 because of his being overused. It still reminds me of Lewis' falloff in velocity after 2007, and he never regained the velocity and command. That's why I still see him as a longshot for the bullpen unless he can show that 2011-most of 2012 form and domination, especially since there are more quality contenders for those bullpen spots than we had back in 2011-2012.

Again, thanks Matthew for pointing that out- apologies for the mix-up.
February 9, 2014 - 11:48 AM EST

You keep referring to Pestano not being effective in 2012. I wonder if you have any reasoning for saying that. You're a very thoughtful poster and I know you wouldn't just say something like that if you couldn't back it up.

I ask because on the surface, the stats say Vinnie was very effective in 2012. His performance dipped in September, but all the way through August he was locking down the 8th as well as anyone in baseball. There was a stretch from late June through Mid-August where he went 21.0IP over 19 appearances without giving up a single run.
No respect
February 9, 2014 - 11:26 AM EST
ROFL at Pestano. He just lost a Half million and his arm is toast. Hope he's saving his money.
Joe Chengery
February 9, 2014 - 11:16 AM EST
No, I don't think they will hold it against him; I just don't think it did him any favors (I.e there was little to gain by it, since he had little chance to win his case). Most try to avoid it because it's a bit awkward and can cause hard feelings amongst some. I don't think the Indians will be that way- it'll be more a matter of whether he can regain his velocity and control on whether he makes the bullpen and if he can reach the backend again.

He reminds me a lot of Jensen Lewis, who was never the same after 2007; let's hope Pestano is different, but he has a lot to prove as he hasn't been effective really since 2011, maybe the first 1-2 months of 2012, two years ago. And, as Tony said, there are plenty of options, with more on the way- time is not on Pestano's side (and he's not that young either).
February 9, 2014 - 11:03 AM EST
Yeah, Pestano is still a favorite for one of the bullpen spots. He pitched hurt for most of last year, was not effective and had two good years before it. When he is on he's one of the better relievers in the game. He unfortunately picked the wrong time to get hurt and have a down year. I do think this helps his chances a little of going to the is a lot easier to send a guy to the minors making $975K than $1.45M, but it really only helps a smidge. Barring a complete collapse from him this spring or injury, he should make the opening day bullpen and then his performance the first 4-6 weeks from there will dictate if he goes to the minors or not. The Indians certainly are in the driving seat since he has options and they have suitable alternatives to replace him if he is not performing or does not look healthy.
February 9, 2014 - 10:38 AM EST
Joe you honestly think the Indians aren't going to play him because he tried to make more money?!?!?! If he is pitching to his level of ability they most certainly will ride him.

Going to arbitration isn't a personal thing. I'm surprised more guys don't give it a try.
February 9, 2014 - 9:57 AM EST
Pestano still received a raise after having a bad year which led him to the minors. Maybe instead of playing through an injury last year he should have been on the DL. By being on DL that could have helped his case in receiving more money from the Indians. Tomlin should take note from the Pestano hearing and try to settle on a contract before his hearing.

If Pestano has a rebound year in 2014 next off season being arb 2 he will receive a lot bigger raise than this year.

If the Indians win all there arb cases, I wonder the savings they get is part of budget to go after Jimenez? I doubt it , but how knows.
Joe Chengery
February 9, 2014 - 4:22 AM EST
Pestano had no chance of winning based on his last two years; if this had been after the 2011 season, yes, it would had been a no-brainer, but taking the team to arbitration in a case where he may have had a 10-20% chance of winning in my mind, I would think it's not going to do him any favors when it comes to the Indians and the increasing bullpen competition. That doesn't mean the Indians will hold it against him, but any favor he might have had or advantage he might have had from 2011 probably just went out the window, which makes it all the more puzzling why he would even try it in my mind.
February 9, 2014 - 3:47 AM EST
In my opinion it was a no brained for Pestano to take it to arbitration. If he won, and pitched to what he/we think is his level then his next two arby years would compound on each other quite nicely.
Joe Chengery
February 9, 2014 - 3:31 AM EST
Truth be told, I'm very surprised that Pestano was even willing to take his case to arbitration, as I think he had the weakest case of the four cases- he really hasn't been effective since very early 2012, and he even fell off the last month of 2011, a longer period than Jimenez was ineffective. I though his chances of winning were essentially nil, and it will be interesting to see how the Indians respond to him, and whether this will get Pestano back on the right track, as right now, he's on the outside looking in, even with all of the changes in the bullpen this offseason.

As for starters, still think Jimenez is the best option in terms of potential and cost-benefit, based on what is going on with other starting pitcher FAs. Hope the Indians are considering bringing him back, as the rotation is still the area that concerns me the most as I think it still has the most question marks based on injuries, ineffectiveness, track records (both established and lack thereof), and youth. Jimenez could definitely bolster it, better than I think the other options out there, besides the fact there is no lost pick or draft pool money.
February 9, 2014 - 12:48 AM EST
Maholm signed by the Dodgers, Capuano and Saunders could be potential Orioles. Still no word on Santana and Jimenez. Also the Korean Yoon is still available. I hope the Indians will scout out Johan Santana when he has audition with MLB teams.

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