It has been widely repeated that the St. Louis Cardinals have not participated in an arbitration hearing since 1999. At that time, they faced off against pitcher Darren Oliver over $600,000 and won. The arbiters are bound to select either the player’s number or the team’s other, with no compromise. Oliver – who is still in the majors 14 years later – had to accept $3.55 million in salary. The left-hander departed as a free agent following the 1999 season.
Just because the Cardinals have not appeared in front of an arbitration panel since then, it does not mean they have not come very close. In fact, a decade later, in 2009, the club had two cases literally come down to the wire – with outfielders Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick.
Beyond the cash itself, one reason this matters is the disruption and time spent. Even though neither the Cardinals nor the players actually presented in 2009, they still had to fully prepare for the hearing as if they would.
In the case of Ankiel, the parti...