It’s arbitration season in baseball, and so stories of players agreeing to terms with their teams just keep pouring out. Tom Gorzelanny and Jordan Zimmermann have both agreed to terms with the Washington Nationals, which means they avoid the arbitration process. Gorzelanny inked a deal for $2.7 million, Zimmerman for $2.3 million, both numbers according to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman.
When you look at those to numbers, one thing comes to my mind: there is no way that Tom Gorzelanny is worth anywhere near as much as Jordan Zimmermann. Zimmermann had an outstanding first full (if you forget about the innings limit) season with the Nats, where he was by far the best pitcher in the team’s rotation. Meanwhile, Tom Gorzelanny flailed and failed in the team’s starting pitching rotation, though he did have some success when used as a reliever. At the end of the season, Zimmermann’s 2.9 WAR destroyed Gorzelanny’s 0.7 WAR, his ERA was nearly a full point lower, his SO/BB was a full strikeout higher, oh, and he didn’t get demoted to the bullpen during the season. So how can these nearly equivalent salaries possibly be fair?
Well, here’s how. Gorzelanny has more than 4 years of service time to JZimm’s 2 years, and Gorzelanny was already making $2.1 million last season. JZimm, despite the fact that he’s making less than Gorzelanny in 2012, got an absolutely gargantuan raise. If my numbers are correct, Zimmermann just got a 454% raise from the $415,000 he made in 2011. Gorzelanny got a 28% pay increase. And that’s the thing about salary arbitration. It’s important to look deeper than where the player ended up; you have to look at the previous year’s salary. I think that Zimmermann got an unbelievably fair raise, and this is just the first time he’ll be arbitration eligible. The sky is the limit for him, and I fully expect he’ll take advantage of that in the years to come.