Are The Seattle Mariners Headed To The Arbitration Table?

Tom Wilhelmsen Still Holding Out

When it comes to arbitration cases for their arbitration eligible players the Seattle Mariners are really quite boring, especially when you consider the fact that they haven’t been to a hearing in 12 seasons.

Shockingly, reliever Tom Wilhelmsen and the Mariners seem to be on a collision course for that hearing.

Tom Wilhelmsen

The Bartender is taking a hard line on his contract.

While we don’t know the exact date of the hearing as that is kept private until after the hearing, we do know that all the hearings must be completed by February 20th.  That gives the M’s and Wilhelmsen just over a week at most to figure this thing out before they start trading barbs with one another.

Seriously!  12 years!  And there is a reason why so few cases wind up in front of an arbiter–  It’s not a pleasant process for either side.  For the record, the last guy there was starting pitcher Freddy Garcia, aka “The Chief” and he won his case.

The process requires the player’s presence in front of his GM, Manager and anyone else from the organization while those guys detail, painstakingly so, why this player is so bad as to not deserve the amount of money he asking for and should only be offered what they have submitted.

Transversely, the player gets to make his case as to why he deserves to paid more than his club is being offered and gets to be critical of his bosses for suggesting that he should be paid less.

How many of you out there would enjoy going in front of a judge and hearing your employer speak about how bad your job performance was last year and use it as leverage to pay you less money?  I’m not signing up for that anytime soon, I assure you.

So how did the M’s wind up here, on the doorstep of verbally slamming a players performance right in front of him?  Ah, it’s the same thing that starts so many disagreements and it’s a reason that is not unique to baseball or sports either.


The numbers that are out there say that Wilhelmsen is looking for just over $2 million in this, his very first arbitration eligible season.  He made just over $500,000 last year.  That’s a big increase for a first year guy.  Essentially, he’s asking for his salary to be quadrupled.

Rodney is the M's closer.  Make no mistake about that.

Rodney is the M’s closer. Make no mistake about that.

The Mariners have reportedly offered Wilhelmsen $1.4 million which is “only” just short of tripling his 2014 salary.  The M’s see the current version of Wilhelmsen.  They see Wilhelmsen, the middle reliever and occasional spot starter, and their offer reflects that role.

Wilhelmsen apparently still sees himself as a dominate closer- as the guy who saved 29 games in 2012 and another 24 games in 2013.  That of course all took place before he completely and utterly lost his command and was sent back to the minor leagues to figure it out.

I rarely take the side of ownership in these kinds of disputes but I really think Whilhelmsen is reaching here.  You can’t expect to be paid for something you lost.  In this case, Tom lost his role as closer when he lost his command and the M’s went out and signed a big money guy in Fernando Rodney to take that role.

In fairness to Tom, he did rebound in 2014 in his new role and pitched well.  I’m not sure he’s the dominate closer he was in 2012 but he was better and I think the M’s need him to pitch well in that middle relief role moving forward if they want to be a championship caliber club.

The M’s and Wilhelmsen really need to figure out a way to settle this.  We are talking about a difference of $800k in salary that is being argued over here.  In baseball terms, that’s tip money. 

Both sides need to split this down the middle, give the guy $1.8 million for 2015 and call it a day.  Nothing good will happen for Wilhelmsen or the M’s if this reaches the point of a hearing.

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About Brian Scott

Husband, Philosopher, Animal Rights Advocate, and Author Brian is a Spokane native and Gonzaga University grad. Seahawks, Mariners, GU Hoops and Cougar football are the teams that drive his passion for sports. You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Brian today!
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