Last year, John Mayberry made $517,000. He hit .227/.286/.391, "good" enough for an OPS of .677 in 134 games and 384 PAs. He hit 11 HRs with 39 RBIs, while striking out 90 times and walking 27. At 29 years old, Mayberry's -1.1 WAR last year was below replacement level.
For that, John Mayberry got a $1 million raise.
My mama really shoulda learned me how to play some baseball.
On Friday, it was reported that the Phillies have avoided arbitration with their reserve outfielder...
#Phillies and John Mayberry avoid arbitration. He gets $1,587,500.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 17, 2014
That is a bit lower than the predicted arbitration salary done by MLB Trade Rumors, who had Mayberry coming in at around $1.7 million. Still, it's a lot of money to pay a player who is likely to be a fourth or fifth outfielder, especially when you already have a cheaper "right-handed power bat" in Darin Ruf, or could go out and get Vernon Wells for about the same amount of cash.
Of course, the Phils still don't have a legitimate back-up center fielder for Ben Revere, unless you count Cesar Hernandez, which I don't. Mayberry is on the roster mainly because he's the only one on the team who can do the job in a pinch, even though he doesn't do it all that well.
Now, the Mayberry "supporters" will tell you that he was misused last year out of necessity, and has seen way too much right-handed pitching throughout his career in Philadelphia. But even against lefties, Mayberry was pretty awful in 2013, hitting just .240/.296/.460 for an OPS of .756 with five HRs in 108 PAs. Against righties, he was .221/.283/.364 for an OPS of .646 with 6 HRs in 276 PAs.
For his career, Mayberry's OPS against lefties is better, at .847. Against righties, it's .668.
On a team with a better offense and outfield situation, paying Mayberry $1.5 million to hit only against lefties and play a corner outfield position may be worth something. But Phils fans just want to be done with his limited skill set and move on. Unfortunately, the team is still searching for that true back-up center fielder and, until they find one, they must hold onto good 'ol John.
And while I agree it is largely a good thing to avoid arbitration if they can, the Phillies seem medically allergic to arbitration court. In this case, Mayberry's not-so-hot '13 season may have shaved a few hundred thousand dollars off that final $1.587 million figure, although I guess that's chicken scratch when you've got a payroll near $160 million.
Still, it's interesting that, in the wake of their agreement on a one-year contract with Kyle Kendrick worth $7.675 million (the Phillies seem to be against round numbers at the moment), the team apparently hasn't actually gone to arbitration with a player since 2008 with Ryan Howard, where they lost and had to award him $10 million, the highest arbitration total in history at that point.
*NOTE: If anyone can find a more recent arbitration case involving the Phils and one of their players, let me know. The Howard case was the latest I could find*
Maybe that made 'em a little scared to go back. You know, bad memories and all.
But, to end this post on a positive note, let's remember Mayberry's good game last year and hope another new batting stance and a one million dollar raise can lead to, oh I don't know, maybe TWO good games in 2014.