After New Contract, Mitch Garver Will Remain the Most Underpaid Catcher in Baseball

MLB pre-arbitration is the worst. NFL rookie contracts can suck too, depending on your position. Running backs are often beyond their prime by the time their rookie deal is over. But nothing beats the arbitration system in the MLB.

Mitch Garver is the latest Twin to feel the wrath of pre-arbitration… and catchers seem to take it harder than other positions. They just take longer, on average, to get to the MLB. Garver was one of the best catchers in the league last season, hitting .273 with 31 HR, 67 RBI, 70 R, .995 OPS and a 4.0 WAR. but his minimum salary for 2020 (thanks to pre-arbitration guidelines) is just about $560K.

The Twins are nice enough to give him a little extra, on top of that minimum. They outbid Spotrac’s estimate of $580K too. The $620K that Doogie is reporting, will make Garver the 38th-best-paid catcher in Major League Baseball.

For once, this isn’t me calling the Twins cheap. You play the cards you’re dealt and you do what is best for your organization. They didn’t even have to give Mitch the extra $60K they did.

I’m calling the system broken. At 30 years old, Garver will enter his first year of arbitration eligibility in 2021. I put his number at around $5 million. Gary Sanchez got $5M from the Yankees this season, in his first year of arbitration. Last season, Sanchez trailed Garver in BA, OPS, ans WAR, but had more RBI and more HR. Willson Contreras took $4.5M, to avoid arbitration with the Cubs, and his stats are even closer to Garver’s.

Garver has played for 2.5 seasons already and would demand about $10 million+ on the open market, if you look at the other catcher contracts around the league. Yet, for one more season he’ll be paid like a backup and IF he has another great year, he’ll make about half of what he is worth in 2021. Then, he’ll fight with the Twins for three consecutive offseasons, trying to boost his pay up to market value, until the arbitration court system finally releases him at age 33…

According to FanGraphs, there were 5 catchers last year ages 33+, who had a 1.0 WAR or higher. By the time Garver can be paid, the numbers say his baseball career will have seen its best days. So, who is going to pay him when he is eligible?

Baseball has some shit to fix.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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