Seeking compromise ....
Nothing says spring training is around the corner like the exchange of arbitration figures.
The annual number fest, which is usually good for a few moments of amazement and entertainment, is the first item of the new year on the baseball calendar.
The Rays head into Tuesday's deadline looking to make a deal with any or all of their three remaining arbitration eligible players - closer candidate Seth McClung, backup catcher Josh Paul and versatile infielder Ty Wigginton.
But if they don't settle by the late afternoon exchange of figures, they are going to suspend negotiations and take the cases to hearings next month. That is a new policy for the Rays, though other teams have done things similarly.
Wigginton was one of the game's biggest bargains last season, hitting .275 with a team-high 24 homers and 79 RBIs while starting at five positions. He will be rewarded well, likely in excess of $2.5-million.
McClung is an interesting case study in his first year of arbitration eligibility. He made $343,000 last season in which he went 2-10 with a 6.81 ERA as a starter and 4-2, 4.43 with six saves as a reliever, and - despite the overall struggles - is in line to more than double his salary, probably making in excess of $750,000.
Paul's strategy is hard to figure. He went to a hearing last year and lost, making $475,000 instead of the $750,000 he sought. Now he appears headed there again after hitting .260 with one homer and eight RBIs in 58 games.
Regardless of what happen in the negotiations, the players remain the property of the Rays. It is only their salary that has to be determined.