Ed Edmonds, Associate Dean for Library and Information Technology, presented the Hesburgh Lecture to the Notre Dame Club of Greater Sarasota on Thursday, February 24. Edmonds’ luncheon talk, “A Look at Baseball’s Handling of ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ – MLB’s System of Salary Arbitration,” focused on the recently completed 2010-2011 cycle that involved 119 players who filed for arbitration. Baseball’s system of final offer arbitration was established in 1973. Dean Edmonds argued that although the system is disliked by nearly all owners and general managers, it is designed to produce a compromise either through negotiations prior to both sides exchanging figures or by a settlement after the exchange of figures.
This year, 34 players and teams exchanged figures in January 2011. During the month of February, 31 players and teams reached an agreement leaving only three cases to be decided by a panel of three arbitrators. The arbitrators are charged with selecting either the player’s figure or the team’s figure within 24 hours after the hearing. They cannot choose any other figure. The main focus of the hearing is a comparison of statistics and salary data involving players with similar skills and length of major league service.
Last year, Edmonds published “A Most Interesting Part of Baseball’s Monetary Structure –Salary Arbitration in Its Thirty-Fifth Year,” in the Marquette Sports Law Review. Edmonds is currently working on an article covering the past two years of arbitration and a website devoted to his research on over 3,400 players who have filed for arbitration since its creation. Salary arbitration was started in baseball two years before a decision in another arbitration setting created free agency.
Edmonds commented that “he enjoyed the opportunity to visit enthusiastic and gracious alumni. It reinforced what is so special about what we do here at Our Lady’s University.”