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Friday, February 22, 2008
K-Rod loses in arbitration, still tied for highest salary decision

Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. -- This time, the Los Angeles Angels got the save: $2.5 million.

The Angels beat All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez in salary arbitration Friday, and he will receive $10 million this season rather than his request for $12.5 million.

The 26-year-old Rodriguez, whose 132 saves over the past three years are the most in the majors, took the arbitration defeat in stride.

"It's a situation you can't control. In the meantime, I'm happy because I'm here and I've just got to move on and make sure to be ready for the season," he said at spring training. "I'm a Halo, still a Halo for this year. I've got to represent my team. I've been here since I was 16 years old."

Money Changes Everything

The bar in salary arbitration has been reset following owner-player hearings this week (including Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels, right). Top salaries awarded in arbitration since the process began in 1974:

The biggest winners
Year Player/club Salary
2008 Howard, Phi $10,000,000
2008 x-Rodriguez, LAA $10,000,000
2006 x-Soriano, Was $10,000,000
2001 A. Jones, Atl $8,200,000
2007 Cabrera, Fla. $7,400,000
2000 x-Rivera, NYY $7,250,000
2003 Garcia, Sea $6,875,000
2003 x-Beltran, KC $6,000,000
2003 x-Vazquez, Mon $6,000,000
x-lost case

He sat through the arbitration hearing, which lasted some four hours.

"I didn't know what to expect," Rodriguez said. "Of course you heard things that you don't want to hear, but that's part of the negotiations."

Asked if he had any hard feelings toward the Angels, he shook his head and said, "No, no, no. It's a part of the process. You cannot take anything personally."

Tony Reagins, who became the Angels' general manager last October, and Rodriguez are friends and both said that had not changed. When he got word that the Angels had won the case, Reagins immediately walked to the practice field in the back of the spring complex and told Rodriguez.

"We go back a long way, back to a time when he was just feeling his way in the States," Reagins said of the pitcher from Venezuela. "I think there's a trust there. This was just a part of the business that was collectively bargained.

"I think it's good to have this behind us. We want to win a world championship and being able to put potential distractions behind us is important."

Despite the loss, Rodriguez tied the record for the highest salary in an arbitration decision, a mark he shares with Alfonso Soriano, who lost his case against Washington in 2006, and Ryan Howard, who beat Philadelphia on Thursday.

Asked if someone had told him when he was a 16-year-old coming out of Venezuela that he someday would make $10 million a year, Rodriguez grinned and said, "I would have laughed in his face."

The decision on Rodriguez was made by arbitrators Stephen Goldberg, Elizabeth Neumeier and Steven Wolf, who heard arguments Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Owners won six of eight cases that went to hearings this year.

Rodriguez made $7.1 million last year, when he tied for second in the AL with 40 saves. He is eligible for free agency after this season and recently indicated that he might leave the Angels, expressing dissatisfaction that they haven't offered him a long-term deal that suits him.

They have made several proposals for longer contracts, including one believed to be for around $34 million for three years, but he has opted to sign for one year each time.

Asked about the possibilities of still reaching a long-term agreement, Rodriguez said: "The door is open and it's going to stay open."

By his high standards, Rodriguez is coming off a so-so season. He had a 3.45 ERA in the second half to finish with a 2.81 ERA, his highest since 2003. He had six blown saves in 46 chances.

He also gave up a game-ending homer to Manny Ramirez in the second game of the AL division series, when the Angels were swept by Boston.

Rodriguez was an October star for the Angels in 2002. A 20-year-old with just five major league appearances, he went 5-1 in the postseason to help the club win its first World Series title.