Arbitration is a common practice in Major League Baseball to settle disputes between players and their respective teams over salary negotiations. Players with more than three years of experience but less than six years can file for arbitration, where an independent arbitrator decides on a fair salary for the upcoming season.

Over the years, there have been several arbitration cases that have made headlines for their groundbreaking decisions. Some players have won big, while others have suffered tough losses. Let’s take a look at some of the top arbitration wins and losses in MLB history.

One of the most significant arbitration wins in MLB history came in 2017 when Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant was awarded $10.85 million, the most ever for a first-time eligible player. Bryant had won the Rookie of the Year award in 2015 and was coming off a season where he hit 39 home runs and helped lead the Cubs to their first World Series title in over a century. The arbitrator’s decision set a record for a first-year eligible player and set a benchmark for future arbitration cases.

On the other hand, there have been some tough losses for players in arbitration as well. One of the most notable cases came in 2003 when New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera lost his arbitration case and was awarded $8.89 million instead of the $10.25 million he had requested. Rivera was considered one of the best closers in the game at the time, and many felt he deserved a higher salary. The decision was seen as a blow to players seeking higher salaries in arbitration.

Another high profile arbitration loss came in 2020 when Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts was awarded $27 million, the second-highest salary ever for a player in his final year of arbitration. Betts had requested $30 million, but the arbitrator sided with the team, leading to speculation that Betts would be traded in the offseason. Ultimately, Betts was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he went on to win the World Series and the MVP award.

Overall, arbitration in MLB can be a complex and sometimes contentious process, with players and teams often arguing over the player’s value and production. While some cases result in big wins for the players, others end in tough losses that can impact a player’s career and future earnings. Regardless of the outcome, arbitration remains an important tool for players and teams to resolve salary disputes and ensure fair compensation for all parties involved.

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