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Happy Birthday, Free Agency


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On this day in baseball: Dec. 23, 1975, Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally won their case in front of an arbitrator to become free agents.

Unlike 'Catfish' Hunter's case, an isolated case in which the A's screwed up and Hunter filed a grievance, the Messersmith case legally defeated the 'Reserve Clause' that kept all negotiating rights in the hands of the players' original team.

In 1975, Andy Messersmith:

  • made 40 starts (1st in the NL)
  • pitched 19 complete games (1st in the NL)
  • pitched 321.67 innings (1st in the NL)
  • had a 2.29 ERA (2nd in the NL)
  • had a 1.057 WHIP.
  • was an All-Star for the 2nd straight year
  • was fifth in the NL CY voting
  • received votes for MVP.

The Dodgers paid him about $90,000 for the year.

In 2007, Randy Wolf:

  • made 18 starts, no surprise after making 12 the previous year and 13 the year before that.
  • pitched 0 complete games
  • pitched 102.67 innings, his most since pitching 136.67 in 2004.
  • had a 4.73 ERA
  • had a 1.45 WHIP

The Dodgers paid him about $7,500,000 for the year (or about 83x what Messersmith made in 1975, ignoring time value of money for the sake of effect). The Padres have signed him for about $4,750,000 for 2008.

Here's a nice article about Messersmith & McNally.

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