Feb. 14: Q of the Day

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

Could you explain baseball economics? The Cardinals trade for Peter Bourjos and there is much talk about him replacing Jon Jay because Jay had a poor season. Yet, Jay gets a raise from half a million to more than three, and Bourjos signs for only a third of Jay’s salary. I know time played enters into it, but this seems a bit skewed, especially when management clearly believes he did poorly. 

— John L., Damascus, Md.

A lesson in baseball economics would take much more time than I have to offer at the moment, but here is one point of emphasis for the day: When it comes to the arbitration process, players get paid for what they have done, not what they are expected to do.

In Jay’s case, he has been a starting outfielder for most of the past three seasons and had at least 500 plate appearances in each. Even with a down offensive season last year, his overall numbers (.293/.356/.400) are not poor. Defensively there is some left to be desired, but the reality is that Jay has been a productive everyday player for the last few years. The market value for outfielders with similar production has been set, and it all led to Jay being awarded $3.25 million.

As for Bourjos, he has not yet established himself in the way Jay has. Injuries kept him off the field for much of the past two seasons, so that hurt his leverage in arbitration negotiations. Both Jay and Bourjos made their Major League debuts in 2010, yet Jay has logged 820 more plate appearances. Jay also has 72 more days of service time. All of these are factors in the discrepancy between the two arbitration settlements.

* To submit a question for consideration, email me at Jenifer.Langosch@MLB.com. Include your first name, last initial and hometown.

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