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It's open season on arbitration process

Published Jan. 24, 1993|Updated Oct. 8, 2005

Opening Day still is 10 weeks away, but baseball is fully immersed in the arbitration season.

Arbitration is the process that has been used since 1974 to determine salaries for players who can't make a deal with their teams. The players (mostly those with three to six years in the majors) request a salary, the teams make an offer and an arbitrator picks between the two. Most cases (117 of 137 last year) are settled somewhere in the middle without a hearing.

This year, the arbitration process is under intense scrutiny. It will be a major issue in the collective-bargaining talks.

Essentially, it uses comparison pricing to set a player's salary: If one fourth-year outfielder who hit .250 is making $1-million, then other fourth-year outfielders who hit .250 want $1-million. The players like the system because they believe it helps them get "market value" after their salaries are held down during their first three seasons. The owners want desperately to rid themselves of the system because they can't control it and because through arbitration last year the average player salary increased 100 percent, whether the player won his case, lost or settled.

Consider Red Sox first baseman Carlos Quintana, who was injured in a car accident in February and missed the 1992 season.

Last week, the Red Sox decided to offer Quintana the same salary ($340,000) he made in 1992 for not playing. Quintana, though, filed an arbitration request for $850,000. All he wants is a $510,000 raise after missing the entire season!

His agent, Brian David, had no trouble defending the request.

"This is the first year Carlos is eligible (for arbitration) and although he didn't play last year, he should be entitled to be considered for what he's accomplished the last two years," David said last week. "His stats match up pretty fairly to other players making more than he is. There's a big jump from guys who aren't yet eligible to guys who are."

And you wonder what the owners don't like?

San Francisco's Matt Williams, coming off a season in which he hit .227, asked for a raise to $2.5-million while the team wants to pay him the same $2-million he made in 1992. New York Yankees pitcher Melido Perez, following a 13-16 season, is seeking a $2.7-million raise, from $1.1-million to $3.8-million. And on and on it goes.

The owners are considering seeking lots of change _ salary caps, revenue sharing, expanded playoffs. Eliminating arbitration will be high on the list.

Bo watch: Bo Jackson has supposedly made great progress since hip replacement surgery and is serious about returning to play this year. The White Sox are taking advantage of the excitement, putting together a 20-game season-ticket deal called the "Hip" package. Commercials show Jackson on his side, smiling, with an X-ray view of his exaggerated "mechanical" hip _ a ferris wheel, bellows and other assorted gizmos. "I was wondering what they would have done if I'd had some sort of prostate surgery," Jackson said.

Close shave: Not only did Jeff Reardon, baseball's all-time saves leader, agree to a minor-league contract with Cincinnati. And not only did he agree to a job as a set-up man. He also agreed to meet Reds requirements and shave the beard he has worn since 1980. "My three kids have never seen me without a beard," Reardon said. "I'll probably have a two-tone face so I'll have to shave and sit out in my backyard for several days before I go out in public. They probably won't know who I am over in Plant City."

Worth quoting: Phillies catcher Darren Daulton, describing a recent golf outing with oft-injured teammate Len Dykstra: "Lenny's healthy, he looks pretty good and is ready to go. I'm trying to keep him healthy. I drove the golf cart."

Miscellany: The Governor's Baseball Dinner, not wanted this spring in St. Petersburg, may resurface in Orlando. Not that they are worried about the heat or the rain, but the Marlins will play 71 home night games, most in the NL. Roger Clemens has decided he will grace the Red Sox with his presence at the start of spring training _ something he does not always do. The Yanks supposedly are close to acquiring lefty reliever Paul Assenmacher from the Cubs for outfielder Hensley Muelens. The Blue Jays again are talking about trading for a left-handed starter. Word is the A's didn't commit to re-signing big-money free-agents Mark McGwire and Ruben Sierra until they knew the Giants were not moving to Tampa Bay.

You want what?

There were 100 players who filed for arbitration last week. Here are 10 player requests that seem a bit, uh, excessive based on 1992 performance:

Player, team Stats

Jerry Browne, A's .287, 3 HRs, 40 RBI

'92 salary '93 request '93 offer

$375,000 $1.95-mil $625,000

Jay Buhner, Mariners .243, 25 HRs, 79 RBI, 146 Ks

'92 salary '93 request '93 offer

$1.45-mil $3.35-mil $2.2-mil

Junior Felix, Marlins .246, 9 HRs, 72 RBI, 128 Ks

'92 salary '93 request '93 offer

$640,000 $1.75-mil $1-mil

Mark Grace, Cubs .307, 9 HRs, 79 RBI

'92 salary '93 request '93 offer

$2.3-mil $4.1-mil $3.1-mil

Gregg Jefferies, Royals .285, 10 HRs, 75 RBI, 19 SBs

'92 salary '93 request '93 offer

$1.15-mil $3-mil $1.85-mil

Randy Johnson, Mariners 12-14, 3.77 ERA, 241 Ks, 144 BBs, 210 IP

'92 salary '93 request '93 offer

$1.4-mil $3.2-mil $2.05-mil

Jeff Montgomery, Royals 1-6, 2.18 ERA, 39 Saves

'92 salary '93 request '93 offer

$2.46-mil $4.3-mil $3.25-mil

Melido Perez, Yankees 13-16, 2.87 ERA, 33 starts, 218 Ks, 247 IP

'92 salary '93 request '93 offer

$1.16-mil $3.8-mil $2.5-mil

Carlos Quintana, Red Sox Missed season because of car accident

'92 salary '93 request '93 offer

$340,000 $850,000 $340,000

Todd Stottlemyre, Jays 12-11, 4.50 ERA, 27 starts, 175 H, 174 IP

'92 salary '93 request '93 offer

$1.2-mil $2.8-mil $1.75-mil