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Arbitration update: Bartlett gets $4M, Garza $3.35M, Howell $1.8M; Upton headed to hearing



Just to recap, with all the news and updates below - the Rays settled three of their four pending arbitration cases before their deadline, though they went into some previously undisclosed buffer time to do so, agreeing to 1-year deals with SS Jason Bartlett ($4-million), RHP Matt Garza ($3.35-million) and LHP J.P. Howell ($1.8-million, plus incentives). They didn't reach agreement and are headed to a February hearing with CF B.J. Upton. The difference in their filings wasn't much, supposedly just $3-million vs. $3.3-million.

UPDATE, 5:15: Heard the gap between the figures filed by the Rays and Upton isn't much - like $3-million and $3.3-million - but per team policy they are still headed to a hearing.

UPDATE, 4:16: Exec VP Andrew Friedman said they were "excited" to get the three deals done, and "obviously disappointed" they couldn't reach agreement with Upton, and suggested that the players union may have put pressure on agents to be tougher in dealing with teams that, like the Rays, have a policy of going to a hearing once figures are exchanged.

"I'm a believer in this process that when you go to a hearing, both sides lose,'' Friedman said. "And I think both sides are culpable. It doesn't do any good to point fingers one way, or vice versa. The process is in place for a reason. When there's a philosophical difference with the comparable players and how things fall, this is what the system offers. While it's sub-optimal - I think both sides worked hard to try to figure something out and at the end of the day we weren't able to.''

Friedman also offered an interesting "nickel theory" that "the union put a lot more pressure on the agents this year with file-to-go teams. Two more teams became file-to-go this year. I think it's something that the union does not want more teams migrating towards, and had them in turn put more pressure on those teams. I think there's five hearings out there from file-to-go teams, and we narrowly avoided others. So I think we were trying to do what we could to avoid them on all four, and fortunately were able to do on three and it's disappointing we weren't able to on the other.''

UPDATE, 3:10: RHP Matt Garza agrees to a 1-year deal for $3.35-million, so Rays avoid arbitration in three of the four cases. Only Upton goes to a hearing. 

UPDATE, 2:32: LHP J.P. Howell agreed to a 1-year deal for $1.8-million, plus some incentives. Still waiting word on Garza.

"I'm very happy, I think both sides are,'' Howell said. "No one really wants to go to a hearing, but I think both sides are willing during this process. I'm just glad it's over and now we can focus on playing rather than money.''

UPDATE, 1:50: Upton did not reach a deal and is headed to arbitration, according to agent Larry Reynolds. Talks with Upton continued to the deadline. Still waiting word on Garza and Howell.

"As per their club policy, there's no further room for negotiation,'' Reynolds said. "In fairness to the team, we knew all this in advance. We just simply ran out of time.''

UPDATE, 1:09 Word was the talks were going to continue until 1 - not sure of how that came to be - but nothing yet from the team. As of this moment, Upton does not have a deal.


DEVELOPING: The Rays avoided arbitration with SS Jason Bartlett, settling on a 1-year, $4-million deal. and are still talking with the other three players - Matt Garza, J.P. Howell and B.J. Upton - even though the noon deadline to file salary figures has passed.

Bartlett, 30,  made $1,981,250 last season and had a career-best year, hitting .320 with 14 homers, 66 RBIs and 30 steals, and stepping into the leadoff role.

"I'm relieved and happy that I can give my family a little more security,'' Bartlett said.

Bartlett said he had hoped the talks would include a long-term deal with the Rays: "That was my ultimate goal. I was all for it, but they didn't want to discuss it.'' It's possible, of course, that could be revisted during the season or into next off-season; Bartlett will be eligible for arbitration again in 2011, then a free agent after the season.

Upton's decision will be interesting, since he was renewed the last two years. Of some potential relevance, other first-time arb eligibles Josh Hamilton just signed with Texas for $3.25-million, and James Loney with the Dodgers for $3.1-million.

Hamilton hit .268 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs in 89 games last season.
Loney hit .281 with 13 homers and 90 RBIs in 158 games.
Upton hit .241 with 11 homers and 55 RBIs in 144 games.



[Last modified: Thursday, February 18, 2010 12:15am]


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