Twins, Alexi Casilla Head to Arbitration

It doesn't happen often, but every few years the Twins can't work through an arbitration case with a player and they go through the arbitration process. The last player that wasn't able to find a midway point was Kyle Lohse back in both 2005 and 2006, which wasn't a surprise at the time.

Casilla made $865,000, and after hitting .260/.322/.368 with a pair of homers, 21 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 97 games last season has submitted $1.75 million for his 2012 salary. The Twins offered $1.065 million. For an objective look into these numbers, in an effort to see which side is most likely to come out of the arbitration hearing as a winner, let's look at a comp list that we'll swipe from MLBTR's post earlier today.

Join us for the breakdown after the jump.

Player

Year

Prev Year

Next Year

% Increase

Aaron Miles

2007

$1.0 M

$1.4 M

40%

Alfredo Amezaga

2008

$945 K

$1.3 M

38%

Jeff Baker

2010

$975 K

$1.75 M

79%

Alexi Casilla

2011

$865 K

??

??


None of these infielders had particularly successful campaigns in their previous season, but of course received raisese regardless. Miles, in his age-30 season, hit .290 with a pair of homers in 133 games. Amezaga hit .264 with three homers in 125 games, in his age-29 season. Baker (also 29) hit .272 with four homers in 79 games. Casilla, Miles, and Amezaga all had an OPS under .700, while Baker managed .739.

Casilla's potential raises

Casilla Wins: $1.75 million, 102% raise
Twins Win: $1.065 million, 23% raise
Midway: $1.407 million, 63% raise

It's hard to believe that either the Twins or Casilla would go to arbitration over $700,000, but that's exactly what's happening. Considering that the midway point would have constituted a 63% raise, that's already more than a fair increase based on Casilla's history. Either the Twins took a hard line ofer that $350,000, or Casilla's side did.

There's no doubt that Minnesota's numbers come in a little low. A 23% raise, even considering Casilla's mediocre performance (he hit worse than the average second baseman in both the American and National Leagues), is below what players expect. But that's how the game is played.

Conversely, players are expected to submit numbers slightly higher than they'd expect. This is where the issue is, because Casilla's agent is looking for his salary to double in spite of the fact that he's done nothing remotely close to earning that kind of compensation.

Going back to Baker, who received a raise much larger than Miles or Amezaga, his raise was huge in some part because arbitration doesn't just look at the prior season - it also looks at the season before that. Which means that his 79% increase was due in some part to hitting .305/.362/.448 with the Cubs in '09.

Casilla, in spite of having a slightly better '10 (.276/.331/.395 in just 69 games), can't boast that his numbers justify his raise.

There's a disconnect between what Casilla's agent believes Alexi is worth, and what he is actually worth. If Casilla's camp had come in a bit closer to reality (asking for a 60% raise would have given Casilla approximately a $1.4 million salary), then I have no doubt that the two sides would have come to an agreement already. Instead, a process which isn't supposed to be personal will be. When two opposing sides are talking about a player's value, it's impossible for it to not be at least a little personal. It's opening a door that can't be closed, and who knows what will come out the other side.

The Twins offer is low. But they should win this hearing, as much as arbitration cases can be won - in terms of money - because Casilla's camp came in so ridiculously high. It's not the dollars in this case; $700,000 isn't a massive gap, and the $350,000 difference to the midway point is almost negligible to a team's payroll. The difference is in the percentages, and calling this judgement just seems too easy.

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