Jenrry Mejia v. New York Mets Submission on Behalf of New York Mets Midpoint: $2.6 Million Submission by Team 18

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1 2015 NATIONAL BASEBALL ARBITRATION COMPETITION Jenrry Mejia v. New York Mets Submission on Behalf of New York Mets Midpoint: $2.6 Million Submission by Team 18

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Page I. Introduction and Request for Hearing Decision...3 II. Quality of the Player s Contribution during the Past Season...3 III. Length and Consistency of Career Contribution...4 IV. Past Player Compensation...5 V. Comparative Baseball Salaries...5 A. Chris Perez Cleveland Indians ($2.225 Million in 2010)...6 B. Mark Melancon Pittsburgh Pirates ($2.595 Million in 2014)...8 C. Bobby Parnell New York Mets ($1.7 Million in 2012)...9 VI. Existence of Mental or Physical Defects...10 VII. Recent Performance of the Club...11 VIII. Conclusion...12 Page 2 of 12

3 I. Introduction and Request for Hearing Decision This brief analyzes the statistics and criteria surrounding right-handed pitcher Jenrry Mejia ( Player or Mejia ) to determine a fair contract with the New York Mets ( Club or Mets ) in The Major League Baseball ( MLB ) Collective Bargaining Agreement ( CBA ) governs this arbitration and sets forth the criteria to be considered. Under CBA Section IV(E), Part (10)(a), the arbitration panel should consider: (1) the quality of the Player s contribution to his Club during the past season, (2) the length and consistency of the Player s career contribution, (3) the record of the Player s past compensation, (4) comparative baseball salaries, (5) the existence of any mental or physical defects on the part of the Player, and (6) the recent performance record of the Club. 1 Given these criteria, the panel should find in favor of the Mets offer of $2.3 million as Mejia is entitled to a salary less than the midpoint of $2.6 million. II. Quality of the Player s Contribution during the Past Season In his 2014 platform season, Mejia appeared in 63 games and pitched 93.2 innings, more than his previous four years combined. He posted an ERA of 3.65, with 28 saves, only 3 blown saves, and a 1.48 WHIP. Table 1. Jenrry Mejia (RHP) 2014 Platform Season 2 Year W L ERA G GF SV BS SV% Hold IP HR BB SO WHIP Mejia initially began the 2014 season as a starter after he beat out Daisuke Matsuzaka for the Mets fifth starting rotation spot. 3 In his first start on April 4, 2014, he performed well throwing six innings and only giving up one run in a win over the Cincinnati Reds. 4 After several 1 MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement Basic Agreement, Article IV(E), Part (10)(a). pp Jenrry Mejia Statistics and History, Baseball-Reference, 3 Daisuke Matsuzaka Left off Mets Roster as Jenrry Mejia Wins Fifth Spot in Rotation, New York Daily News, 4 Jenrry Mejia, RotoWorld: NBC Sports, (search Recent News). Page 3 of 12

4 up-and-down starts, Mejia was eventually moved to the bullpen in early May. 5 As a result of the Mets fulltime closer Bobby Parnell having season-ending surgery, a total of seven different Mets players earned saves in Mejia earned his first career save in a 5 to 2 win over the Washington Nationals on May 17, 2014 and remained in the bullpen for the rest of the season as the Mets closer. 7 After recording six consecutive saves, he earned his first loss and blown save of the season on June 8, 2014 against the San Francisco Giants. His other two blown saves came early on in the season as well, and he finished off a solid year. Despite battling some minor injuries and dealing with the move to the bullpen, Mejia showed great toughness and an ability to improve. III. Length and Consistency of Career Contribution Mejia s career has been marked with inconsistency and injuries. In 2007, Mejia was signed by the Mets as an amateur, international free agent out of the Dominican Republic. 8 He excelled in the minors 9 and was considered a very promising prospect for the Mets. After years of build-up, he made his major league debut on April 7, He had a very respectable rookie year in 2010, appearing in 33 games with an ERA of 4.62, primarily coming out of the bullpen. The Mets had high hopes that he would soon become a premier pitcher in the league. Unfortunately, he missed the 2011 season due to a complete MCL ligament tear that required Tommy John surgery Id. 6 Mets Avoid Arbitration with Bobby Parnell, MLB Trade Rumors, 7 Jenrry Mejia Game-by-Game Stats, ESPN, 8 Jenrry Mejia, Baseball-Reference, 9 Mejia owns a 2.87 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 398 career minor league innings. Jenrry Mejia Will Undergo Season- Ending Elbow Surgery, NBC Sports, 10 See Part VI. Page 4 of 12

5 Table 2. Jenrry Mejia (RHP) Career 11 Year W L ERA G SV BS SV% Hold IP BB SO WHIP Career Mejia spent most of the 2012 season in the minors, but returned for a handful of MLB games towards the end of the season. He struggled, as many pitchers do coming back from major surgery. He finished with a record of 1 win and 2 losses with an ERA of In 2013, he again battled to stay healthy. He showed great promise, posting an ERA of 2.30 in 27.1 innings and good command only walking 4 batters with 27 strikeouts. However, after just five starts, he had elbow surgery that again cut his season short. 12 IV. Past Player Compensation Mejia has earned close to the MLB minimum salary throughout the first two years of his MLB career. 13 As a reminder, Mejia is a Super 2, and thus he is eligible for arbitration after approximately two years of service. In 2013, Mejia made $494,925, with years of Major League Service Time (MLST), and in 2014, Mejia made $509,675, with years of MLST. V. Comparative Baseball Salaries Based on the salaries of three statistically-comparable, first-time salary arbitration eligible (SAE) relief pitchers, Mejia s expected value falls below the $2.6 million midpoint. Mejia will be compared with Chris Perez, 14 a closer formerly of the Cleveland Indians, who received $2.225 million in his 2010 platform season; Mark Melancon, 15 a middle reliever for the 11 Jenrry Mejia, Baseball-Reference, 12 Mets Jenrry Mejia on the Right Track with Elbow Rehab, NJ.com, 13 Jenrry Mejia, Baseball-Reference, 14 Chris Perez, Baseball-Reference, 15 Mark Melancon, Baseball-Reference, Page 5 of 12

6 Pittsburgh Pirates, who was awarded $2.595 million in his 2013 All-Star season; and Bobby Parnell, 16 the current closer for the Mets who Mejia filled in for last season, who was awarded $1.7 million in his 2012 platform season as a reliever and closer. A. Chris Perez Cleveland Indians ($2.225 Million in 2010) Chris Perez, formerly of the Cleveland Indians, provides a valuable basis of comparison for Mejia. Perez was also a Super 2 in 2010 (with years of MLST) and was awarded a salary of $2.225 million. In their platform years, Mejia and Perez both appeared in the same number of games, 63, but just about every category below, as well as others not listed, favor Perez over Mejia. Table 3. Production in Platform Season: Mejia and Perez Jenrry Mejia Salary Midpoint = $2.6 million Chris Perez Salary Awarded = $2.225 million Player Year W L ERA G SV BS SV% Hold IP BB SO WHIP Jenrry Mejia Chris Perez In 2014, Mejia amassed 6 wins and 6 losses and finished with a 3.65 ERA. In 2010, Perez finished with 2 wins and 2 losses with a 1.71 ERA. Because Mejia began the year as a starter, there is not much to take away from the differences in win-loss records, and this is generally true for most relievers and the next two player comparisons. However, the stark difference in ERA is important to note. This severely favors Perez by 194 points (3.65 to 1.71). On the other hand, Mejia does seem to have some advantage with respect to saves and save percentages. Mejia slightly edges out Perez in number of saves (28 to 23) and save percentage (90.3% to 85.2%). However, ERA is often the singular statistic noted to measure a pitcher s success. 17 Further, the differences in ERA are far more significant than the differences in saves or save percentages. 16 Bobby Parnell, Baseball-Reference, 17 Elements of ERA, ESPN, Page 6 of 12

7 To help illuminate this comparison of ERA to save percentage, it is worth noting the players numbers in comparison to the rest of the league in their respective years. In 2010, Perez s 23 saves and 85.2% save percentage were good for T-22nd best in the league and T-17th best among qualified closers, respectively. 18 Mejia s 28 saves and 90.3% save percentage were good for 18th and 8th best among qualified closers, respectively. 19 While none of these rankings is spectacular on its own, these numbers do seem to favor Mejia. However, when comparing ERAs to the rest of the league in their respective years, there is a stark difference. Perez had an ERA of 1.71 in 2010, which was 5th best in the league among qualified relievers. 20 Mejia, on the other hand, had an ERA of 3.65, which was T-102nd best in the league among qualified relievers. 21 In addition, Perez had a much better WHIP (1.08 to 1.48), a better strikeout to walk ratio (SO/W) (3.05 to 2.39), and a longer history of success. Perez was generally injury free for his first two MLB seasons and pitched 98.2 innings prior to this 2010 platform season, with very respectable numbers in those years, as shown below. Prior to Mejia s platform season, he only pitched 82.1 innings over four years (three seasons) as he battled with injuries and produced inconsistent numbers. Table 4. Career Production Entering First Season of Arbitration: Mejia and Perez Player Year W L ERA G SV BS SV% Hold IP BB SO WHIP Jenrry Mejia 4 Yrs Chris Perez 3 Yrs The career numbers for both players entering their first season of arbitration also favor Perez in almost every category. Perez was awarded $2.225 million after this platform year. Given that, Mejia s worth should fall below the $2.6 million midpoint. 18 MLB Closer Report 2010, ESPN, 19 MLB Closer Report 2014, ESPN, 20 ERA among Qualifying Relief Pitchers, Fangraphs, on1=2010&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=16,a. 21 Id. Page 7 of 12

8 B. Mark Melancon Pittsburgh Pirates ($2.595 Million in 2014) Mark Melancon, of the Pittsburgh Pirates, also provides a useful basis of comparison for Mejia. After his 2013 platform season, Melancon (3.098 years of MLST) was awarded $2.595 million in his first season of arbitration eligibility. Table 5. Production in Platform Season: Mejia and Melancon Jenrry Mejia Salary Midpoint = $2.6 million Chris Perez Salary Awarded = $2.595 million Player Year W L ERA G SV BS SV% Hold IP BB SO WHIP Jenrry Mejia Mark Melancon Melancon had an excellent platform season capped off with his first selection as a National League All-Star. He posted a 1.39 ERA over 71 innings. He recorded 70 strikeouts with only 8 walks, resulting in a SO/W ratio of 8.75, third best in the league in He also boasted a 0.96 WHIP. 23 Melancon outperformed Mejia in almost every statistical category in their respective platform years. While Mejia has some advantage in saves, Melancon recorded an impressive 26 holds by July 27, 2013, which as noted are similar to eighth inning saves, before he became the primary closer for the Pirates because of an injury to their starting closer. While Mejia has a solid save percentage, outside of that one category Melancon s statistics are far more impressive: ERA (1.39 to 3.65), WHIP (0.96 to 1.48), and SO/W (8.75 to 2.39). Melancon s career numbers leading into his first season of arbitration are also more impressive than Mejia s: ERA (3.24 to 3.84), WHIP (1.17 to 1.51), and SO/W (3.27 to 2.09). Table 6. Career Production Entering First Season of Arbitration: Mejia and Melancon Player Year W L ERA G SV BS SV% Hold IP BB SO WHIP Jenrry Mejia 4 Yrs Mark Melancon 5 Yrs Even viewing these stats in a light favorable to Mejia and giving substantial weight to 22 Strikeout-to-Walk Ratios among Qualifying Pitchers, Fangraphs, 23 Any WHIP below 1.00 is often considered excellent. WHIP, Fangraphs, Page 8 of 12

9 save percentage, the only category that favors Mejia, it is hard to ignore the other vast differences that favor Melancon s productivity and efficiency in his platform season and over his career. After this year, Melancon was awarded $2.595 million. Therefore, even if Mejia s stats were comparable to Melancon s 2013 All-Star year, Mejia would still be deserving of an amount below the $2.6 million midpoint. C. Bobby Parnell New York Mets ($1.7 Million in 2012) Finally, a comparison with Bobby Parnell of the Mets shows Mejia s value is below the $2.6 million midpoint. In Parnell s 2012 platform season, he was the closer for the Mets, just as Mejia was in In other words, comparing Parnell s and Mejia s platform seasons involves comparing two similar relief pitchers from the same team within two years of one another. Table 7. Production in Platform Season: Mejia and Parnell Jenrry Mejia Salary Midpoint = $2.6 million Chris Perez Salary Awarded = $1.7 million Player Year W L ERA G SV BS SV% Hold IP BB SO WHIP Jenrry Mejia Bobby Parnell In 2012, Parnell finished with 5 wins and 4 losses with an ERA of 2.49 in 68.2 innings. Mejia pitched more innings, 93.2, but ended the year with a lower win percentage and again a higher ERA, In addition, Parnell had a better WHIP, 1.24 to 1.48, and a better SO/W ratio, 3.05 to Similar to Mejia s route to become the closer, Parnell began as a middle reliever in 2012 before earning the closer spot and recording his first save on June 28, This accounts for the differences in saves and save percentages as Parnell instead excelled with an impressive 18 holds that season, similar to Melancon s 2013 All-Star season noted above. Parnell and Mejia also have very similar career numbers leading into their first seasons of arbitration eligibility. 24 Mejia took over Parnell s spot in 2014 after Parnell had season-ending Tommy John surgery. See Part VI. 25 Wright Leads Mets Past Depleted Dodgers, MLB, m#gid=2012_06_28_nynmlb_lanmlb_1&mode=recap&c_id=nym. Page 9 of 12

10 Table 8. Career Production Entering First Season of Arbitration Eligibility: Mejia and Parnell Player Year W L ERA G SV BS SV% Hold IP BB SO WHIP Jenrry Mejia 4 Yrs Bobby Parnell 5 Yrs The only major differences appear to be saves and holds. Mejia posted more saves as he was the Mets closer this past season, but Parnell posted substantially more holds as he primarily a middle reliever for most of his career. Often, closers receive more compensation than middle relievers or setup pitchers. This could be cause to award Mejia a higher sum. However, Parnell was previously awarded only $1.7 million so even a substantial raise on that amount would still likely result in a figure below the $2.6 million midpoint. Further, the Mets manager has already publicly expressed the view that Parnell will work his way back into the closer position when he returns from his injury. 26 Mejia was pulled as a starter in the 2014 season and has spent most of his career coming out of the bullpen. This makes it likely that Mejia may return as a middle reliever, just as Parnell was in his platform season, and middle relievers often receive substantially less money. For example, in David Robertson s platform year of 2011 (3.070 years of MLST), he led the league in ERA (1.08) and holds (34) while being named an All-Star and Setup Man of the Year. 27 In his first year as a SAE relief pitcher, he was awarded only $1.6 million, an amount far below the $2.6 million midpoint, and showing that $2.3 million on its own is a fair value for other first year SAE relief pitchers with statistics much better than Mejia s. VI. Existence of Mental or Physical Defects Mejia has unfortunately been plagued with injuries since he made his MLB debut in As noted, he had season-ending Tommy John surgery in 2011 to fix a complete MCL 26 Collins Wants Parnell to Be the Closer When He Returns, Mets Blog, 27 David Robertson, Baseball-Reference, Page 10 of 12

11 tear. 28 He began his return from surgery in February 2012, throwing bullpen sessions, pitching in the minors, and eventually appearing in five major league games at the end of the season. 29 In March 2013, Mejia was again troubled with injury as forearm tendinitis kept him out until May. 30 He showed promise in some minor league starts rehabbing from this injury, and he made his 2013 debut against the Nationals on July 26, Around that time, it was announced that Mejia had bone chips in his elbow that would require off-season surgery. The Mets eventually shut him down that season and he underwent surgery on August 28, At the start of the 2014 season, there were again concerns that Mejia may miss some time due to a bunion on his foot and a large blister on his hand. 32 However, Mejia fought through those injuries, and he started the 2014 season as the fifth starter in the Mets rotation before moving to the bullpen in May Mejia finally was able to put in close to a full season of work and showed good promise. Despite this, he could not completely avoid harm as he had hernia surgery after the season on October 2. Reports indicated he had a normal recovery after a few weeks. 33 Over four years in the majors, Mejia has showed great resolve in battling numerous injuries. However, with several surgeries in the past, including two season-ending surgeries on his arm in 2011 and 2013, the Mets are concerned as to whether Mejia will be able to remain healthy this season and in the future. 28 Jenrry Mejia Injury: Ligament Tear Confirmed, Tommy John Surgery Needed, SB Nation, 29 Jenrry Mejia, RotoWorld: NBC Sports, (search Recent News). 30 Mets Jenrry Mejia Says He Has Elbow Inflammation: Will Be Shut down for Two Weeks, NJ.com, 31 Id. 32 Id. 33 Id. Page 11 of 12

12 VII. Recent Performance of the Club In 2014, the Mets went 79 and 83, which left them 17 games back of the divisionwinning Washington Nationals. 34 It was the sixth season in a row that the Mets finished with a winning percentage under The Mets had a team ERA of 3.49, good for sixth in the National League. Mejia was one of the bright spots of the disappointing 2014 season and helped the Mets put up a respectable team ERA. However, in today s game, there is often more focus on offensive numbers. For example, of the top six team ERAs in the National League in 2014, a respectable three of those six made the National League (NL) playoffs. 36 In contrast, all five NL playoff teams were in the top six in team batting averages. 37 The Mets were third worst in the National League in team batting average. If they hope to compete for a division title, they need to focus on vastly improving their offense. VIII. Conclusion In 2014, Mejia showed great promise of what may be in store for his future. However, even in his best season in four years, his numbers were still not comparable with other first-year SAE relief pitchers who were often awarded much less than the $2.6 million midpoint. This alone should warrant acceptance of a $2.3 million award. However, Mejia also has consistently battled major injuries. While the Mets certainly hope Mejia stays healthy in 2015, his injury concerns add to the Mets uncertainty of his ability to contribute in the future. Perhaps after another year of proven success, Mejia may be deserving of being awarded a higher arbitration amount. For the 2015 season, the Mets respectfully request the arbitration panel grant the award of $2.3 million. 34 Standings, MLB, 35 Mets Year-By-Year Results, MLB, 36 Major League Baseball Stats: NL Team ERA, MLB, 37 Major League Baseball Stats: NL Team Batting Averages, MLB, Page 12 of 12

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