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Dizzy Days At The Arbitration Table
Hank Hersch
March 03, 1986
As a madcap season of hearings came to a close, Wade Boggs settled for a mere $1.35 million
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March 03, 1986

Dizzy Days At The Arbitration Table

As a madcap season of hearings came to a close, Wade Boggs settled for a mere $1.35 million

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WINNERS

and

LOSERS

 

ASKED

OFFERED

 

OFFERED

ASKED

Orel Hershiser, Dodgers

$1,000,000

$600,000

Wade Boggs, Red Sox

$1,350,000

$1,850,000

Bret Saberhagen, Royals

$925,000

$625,000

Gary Ward, Rangers

$865,000

$930,000

Brett Butler, Indians

$850,000

$600,000

Rich Gedman, Red Sox

$650,000

$1,000,000

Charlie Leibrandt, Royals

$770,000

$550,000

Julio Franco, Indians

$575,000

$740,000

Bryn Smith, Expos

$700,000

$500,000

Gary Gaetti, Twins

$515,000

$675,000

Frank Viola, Twins

$674,000

$525,000

Ron Darling, Mets

$440,000

$615,000

Dave LaPoint, Tigers

$550,000

$410,000

Alvin Davis, Mariners

$400,000

$550,000

Ed Lynch, Mets

$530,000

$400,000

Mike Moore, Mariners

$400,000

$530,000

Steve Balboni, Royals

$525,000

$350,000

Ron Kittle, White Sox

$400,000

$500,000

Phil Bradley, Mariners

$475,000

$375,000

Eddie Milner, Reds

$350,000

$530,000

Marty Barrett, Red Sox

$435,000

$325,000

Greg Brock, Dodgers

$325,000

$440,000

Ron Romanick, Angels

$425,000

$250,000

Bill Dawley, Astros

$325,000

$435,000

Bob Kearney, Mariners

$300,000

$215,000

Wally Backman, Mets

$325,000

$425,000

Ricky Horton, Cardinals

$275,000

$215,000

Gary Pettis, Angels

$300,000

$425,000

Dave Van Gorder, Reds

$150,000

$75,000

Frank DiPino, Astros

$280,000

$380,000

     

Kevin McReynolds, Padres

$275,000

$450,000

     

Tim Teufel, Mets

$200,000

$350,000

     

Jeff Dedmon, Braves

$200,000

$270,000

     

Tim Laudner, Twins

$155,000

$250,000

     

Alan Knicely, Phillies

$80,000

$140,000

Wade Boggs emerged from the elevator at 9:30 last Friday morning with the polished glaze of a well-vacationed banker. The Boston third baseman and American League batting champion was there, on the ninth floor of the offices of the American Arbitration Association in midtown Manhattan, to seek his market value. He was also there to bat cleanup in that grand old winter game of arbitration. His was the last and most important case to be heard this season.

In the following hours, representatives for the Red Sox and for Boggs tried to convince arbitrator Tom Roberts that Boggs deserved to be either extremely rich—the club was offering $1.35 million for 1986—or extremely richer—he was asking $1.85 million. Either way, Boggs would set a new record: most money awarded, arbitration, season.

As Boggs strode across the carpeted floor toward the reception desk, though, his immediate concern was not his place in baseball—or financial—history. No, first things first for Boggs, one of the most superstitious players in all of baseball. He wanted to know his fate at once.

"What room are we in?" he asked the receptionist.

"Thirteen," replied Evelyn Duffy, who assigns the hearing areas.

"Oh, my god," said Boggs, who wilted like the Red Sox in August. "I don't believe it."

A lot of people didn't believe the awards they were handing out in this, the heaviest season for arbitration since baseball instituted the process in 1974. Ed Lynch, a Mets pitcher on the fringe of the starting rotation, won his case and $530,000, while teammate Ron Darling, who would be the ace of the staff if it weren't for Dwight Gooden, lost his case and was left with $440,000. Pitchers Orel Hershiser of the Dodgers and Bret Saberhagen of the Royals, each with two years under his belt, were given $1 million and $925,000 rewards, respectively.

This was Boggs's second trip to arbitration. A four-year vet with two batting crowns and a lifetime .351 average, he made $1 million last year after whipping the Red Sox before an arbitrator no longer serving baseball. The Red Sox, who had offered $625,000, tried to shred Boggs statistically during that hearing, and he dreaded going back to arbitration. But he wanted a raise after batting .368, hitting in a record 135 games and finishing third in the Gold Glove voting. He would accept a small one if it was tied to a multiyear contract with a no-trade clause. Boston, in fear of being eternally stuck with its own players, said no to the no-trade. Hello, impasse. "Wade's not a happy camper," said William E. Moore Jr., a Boggs representative.

The bottom lines were drawn. Coordinated Sports Management Group, Inc., which handles Boggs, crunched stats and dollars and arrived at the $1.85 mil figure. The club's submission stood between two offers it had made early in its negotiations with Boggs, which began at the end of the season. At the hearing, the player's camp—pitched by two agents, one lawyer, a clerk, a statistician, three Players Association reps, Boggs and a hometown friend of his from Tampa—claimed Wade was an exceptional performer, worthy of the contracts accorded Mike Schmidt or George Brett Or Dale Murphy. On the other side of the conference table, the owners' team—Red Sox G.M. Lou Gorman, hired gun Tal Smith and his assistant, two labor lawyers, another statistician and officials from the Player Relations Committee—also pointed to Schmidt and Brett and Murphy, saying they had been in the league much longer than Boggs before they had earned big bucks. The hearing took 4½ hours in all.

As good a hitter as Boggs is, the salary he was seeking did seem a little unbelievable. "I wonder what Ted Williams would ask for," mused Gorman just before the door to Room 13 closed.

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