Baseball players in arbitration had an average salary increase of $348,269 this year, according to an Associated Press survey. The 82 percent jump is the most since before collusion and will push the major-league average to about $600,000 in 1990. The 159 players who filed for arbitration had an average salary of $422,735 in 1989. Their 1990 average, including prorated shares of signing bonuses and other guaranteed money, will be $771,004.
Last year, the salaries of players in arbitration rose 70 percent, following a 65 percent rise in 1988 and a 35 percent increase in 1987.
Using an alternate method of calculation, average annual values, the increase was ever sharper _ 102 percent, the biggest rise since 1981. Many players have structured their contracts to lower their salaries this season because of the owners' lockout.
Sixty-eight players in arbitration doubled their salaries, 21 tripled them, five quadrupled them and Mike Bielecki of the Chicago Cubs increased his five-fold, from $122,500 to $675,000.
Bielecki's 451 percent increase was followed Ruben Sierra's 355 percent jump from $357,500 to $1,625,000 and Fred McGriff's 346 percent increase from $325,000 to $1.45-million.
According to statistical comparisons with recent years, the average salary should rise to between $590,000 and $620,000 next season. The exact number will depend on which players make opening day rosters.
Although 161 players filed, pitchers Greg Minton of California and John Candelaria of Montreal were refused arbitration and became free agents. Just 24 players had hearings and 14 won.
Players won seven of 12 hearings last year, giving them a better than .500 record in consecutive years for the first time since 1979-81. Owners still have a 164-139 advantage since the process began in 1974.
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Doug Drabek won his arbitration case Thursday. He made $325,000 last year and tripled his salary to $1.1-million. Arbitrator Reginald Alleyne, a UCLA law professor hearing his first case, decided against the club's figure of $750,000 offer.
Around the majors
Twins: Shortstop Greg Gagne has signed a new three-year contract that will keep him with the club through the 1992 season, the Twins said. Terms of the new pact were not disclosed. Gagne, 28, hit a career-high .272 last season, playing in 149 games with nine home runs and 48 RBI.
Red Sox: Jim Rice, released last fall after 15 years with Boston, reportedly is resigned to sitting out the 1990 baseball season.