Posted on Fri, Jan. 13, 2006
Willis, Soriano file for arbitration
MIKE FITZPATRICK / Associated Press
Dontrelle Willis, Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano were among the 100 players who filed for salary arbitration on Friday, the often acrimonious negotiating process that rankles baseball management every winter.
Mark Prior, Josh Beckett, Brad Lidge, Adam Dunn, Morgan Ensberg, Brian Roberts and Scot Shields were some of the other stars who filed before Friday's deadline. Players will exchange proposed salaries with their teams on Tuesday.
Willis is one of the few established big leaguers left on the Florida Marlins, who have cut about $47 million in 2006 payroll after starting last season at $60 million.
Eligible for arbitration for the first time, the charismatic left-hander should have a strong case after going 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA last season, when he made only $378,500. He led the majors in wins and was runner-up to St. Louis' Chris Carpenter for the NL Cy Young Award.
Teixeira, eligible for arbitration for the first time as well, is coming off a huge season for the Texas Rangers and also figures to get a hefty raise from the $3,675,000 he earned last year. The switch-hitting first baseman batted .301 with 43 homers and 144 RBIs.
Soriano was traded from Texas to Washington last month, and the Nationals would like to move the All-Star second baseman to a different position. He wants to stay at second.
After earning $7.5 million last year, Soriano is likely to make about $10 million this year. He can become a free agent after next season.
Tampa Bay first baseman Travis Lee became a free agent after last season and accepted arbitration, so he will be back with the Devil Rays. The other players in arbitration all have less than six years of major league service.
Many baseball owners dislike arbitration because it forces them to pay their players as much as comparable players on other teams.
Though 100 players are in arbitration, many are expected to agree to contracts before the scheduled swap of proposed salaries.
Relief pitcher Luis Vizcaino and the Diamondbacks avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $1,775,000, one-year contract Friday before the union submitted the filings. Arizona and No. 1 starter Brandon Webb also agreed on a $19.5 million, four-year deal, locking up the sinkerball specialist through his arbitration years.
"I've worked with the pitching staff and the coaching staff and really honed in on what kind of pitcher I am," Webb said. "I just feel I can progress every year and get better."
Webb's contract includes an $8.5 million club option for 2010 with a $500,000 buyout.
"Brandon has certainly earned this contract," Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes said. "His three years thus far have been tremendous. He's really one of the more unheralded elite pitchers in baseball.
"This is the type of contract a club doesn't have to do," Byrnes said. "We had Brandon under control through arbitration for four more years, but it is something we wanted to do."
Byrnes, hired last October, said it's important to get long-term deals in place for a team's core players to give them security and the club some cost certainty.
"It really helps accelerate the decision-making process and the building process," Byrnes said.
Two pitchers got new deals after filing: Colorado right-hander Aaron Cook and Seattle reliever Julio Mateo. They were still on the arbitration list because their deals were pending physicals.
Cook got a $4.55 million, two-year contract on Friday with a club option for 2008. Mateo and the Mariners agreed Thursday to a $1,875,000, two-year deal.
Only three cases went to hearings last year, the fewest since arbitration began in 1974. Owners went 2-1 for their ninth straight winning record (Minnesota pitcher Kyle Lohse was the lone player to win) and lead players 265-198 overall.
Last year, players in arbitration averaged a 123 percent increase. Dunn got the steepest raise, from $445,000 to $4.6 million with Cincinnati.