The Causes of Bargaining Failure: Evidence from Major League Baseball
Final-offer arbitration in Major League Baseball provides an ideal setting for examining the empirical regularities that are associated with bargaining failure, since final offers, salaries, and player statistics, which provide the fundamental facts for the case, are all readily available. Using data for players eligible for arbitration for 1990-93, we conduct a wide variety of empirical tests regarding the relationship between aggressive offers and arbitration outcomes. We find that aggressive offers by players trigger arbitration and that more aggressive offers are associated with inferior financial outcomes in arbitration. Overall, clubs appear to outperform players in arbitration. Unexpectedly high or low offers are less common for players who have previously been through arbitration, which suggests that learning occurs. Our results are inconsistent with simple one-sided asymmetric-information models of arbitration. The results are more consistent with an optimism model or a model in which some players are risk loving.
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