Cordero, Walker win arbitration cases

NEW YORK -- Washington closer Chad Cordero and San Diego second baseman Todd Walker won their salary hearings Wednesday, leaving owners with a 4-3 edge this year in cases decided by arbitration panels.

The 106 players in arbitration averaged a 106 percent increase, from $1.46 million to $3.01 million.

Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley got the biggest percentage raise, a 24-fold increase from $500,000 to an average of $12.1 million under his $85 million, seven-year contract. Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer got a 20-fold hike, from $400,000 to an average of $8.25 million under his $33 million, four-year deal.

The average salary of players in arbitration rose from $2.66 million in 2006 but remained below the record $3.26 million set in 2004. The rate of increase dropped for the second straight year, from 123 percent in 2005 and 109 percent in 2006. It's the lowest hike since a 92 percent rise in 2003.

Fourteen players received multiyear contracts, matching last year's total and nearly half the recent high of 27 in 2001.

Owners won the first four cases that went to hearings, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers' Joe Beimel ($912,500), Florida's Kevin Gregg ($575,000), Washington's John Patterson ($850,000) and Tampa Bay's Josh Paul ($625,000). Florida's Miguel Cabrera ($7.4 million) won Friday.

Cordero received a raise to $4.15 million from $525,000 instead of the club's offer of $3.65 million. He was 7-4 with a 3.19 ERA and 29 saves last season after leading the majors with 47 saves in 2005.

Walker will get an increase from $2.5 million to $3.95 million instead of the Padres' $2.75 million offer.

He hit .282 with three homers and 13 RBIs with the Padres, who acquired him from the Chicago Cubs on July 31. Overall last season, Walker batted .278 with nine homers and 53 RBIs.

"You don't want to go through something like that," Walker said. "It was painful. It worked out and we feel very lucky."

Management has had a winning record in arbitration for 11 straight seasons and leads players 273-203 overall since the process began in 1974.