Professional Baseball Player
During his 10 years as a staff lawyer at the Major League Baseball Players Association, Jeff Fannell was involved in hundreds of salary arbitration cases. However, none was as significant as the first case he prepared and presented on behalf of JFA in 2012.
JFA represented a Major League starting pitcher who was seeking to more than double his previous year’s salary, despite coming off of a season in which he lost more games than he won. The pitcher was seeking a salary of $8 million, while the club had countered with $6.9 million. In the high-stakes game of baseball salary arbitration, the arbitrators award either the player’s or the club’s submission – there is no in-between. Against this backdrop, JFA crafted a strategy that focused on the quality of the pitcher’s individual performance, while highlighting the poor offensive production of the club. The pitcher’s subpar won-loss record, JFA argued, was primarily a product of poor run support. Based on historical data, JFA demonstrated that the pitcher’s individual performance would have translated into a superior won-loss record had his team provided better run production. JFA also showed that pitchers with lesser performance in the current market who had superior offensive support, posted winning records – further demonstrating the importance of run production.
In the end, the arbitrators agreed with JFA’s arguments. In doing so, they awarded the pitcher his requested salary of $8 million, which represents the highest salary ever awarded to a starting pitcher in the history of salary arbitration.