Tampa Bay Rays reliever Ryan Thompson called for more transparency in the arbitration process after losing his case last week.
“The biggest issue with this process to me is that the arbitrators get to make whatever decision they come to, but with no explanation or defense of the decision,” Thompson said in a lengthy Twitter thread. “In any other legal case, the decision is public, this for some reason is very hidden and secretive.
“If the process is created in order for fairness, then why don’t we learn the laws of the land? In some sense, we were shooting in the dark not knowing what the arbitrators leaned into and what they disregarded. These understandings matter.”
Thompson will make $1 million rather than the $1.2 million he sought.
Major League Baseball and the players’ association agreed when they established arbitration for 1974 that only a decision would be issued, with no explanation.
Thompson said he had no hard feelings toward the Rays and said they were “as professional and respectful as possible considering the circumstances.” But he had issues with the statistics that were used to judge his worth as a middle reliever.
Thompson said he considers holds and leverage index the most important statistics for a middle reliever or setup man such as himself. He said the Rays discredited his statistics in those categories and noted his blown saves, lack of usage against left-handers and what he cited as a Fangraphs metric called “meltdowns,” which essentially notes whether a pitcher made his team more likely to lose by a certain amount.
Thompson also noted that he was told not to reveal the date of his case to make sure arbitrators wouldn’t research him beforehand and create a bias.
“However, upon entry to the hearing, they all have phones out and they use them freely during the breaks,” Thompson tweeted. “After the case, they don’t sit in the room and hash out the decision, but rather they head to the hotel bar. It is extremely disconcerting that the arbitrators are socializing, drinking and using their devices prior to making a decision. (Not at all assuming foul play). Just an obvious flaw I witnessed.”
Thompson, 30, went 3-3 with three saves and a 3.80 ERA in 47 appearances last season.
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Corbin Burnes said last week “there’s no denying that the relationship is definitely hurt” after the 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner heard the team’s arguments during a hearing he lost, resulting in a $10.01 million salary rather than the $10.75 million he requested
Major League Baseball proposed in bargaining last year to replace arbitration with a metric-based system, but the players’ association preferred the current system.