Average raise for players declines

Updated: February 16, 2012, 9:35 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- With Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw and Pablo Sandoval getting the steepest increases, the overall rise of salaries for players in arbitration slowed to its lowest level since 2007.

The 142 players who filed for arbitration last month averaged an 89 percent increase, according to a study of agreements by The Associated Press. That was down from an average jump of 123 percent last year and was the lowest increase since a 73 percent rise in 1996.

Gonzalez, acquired by Washington in a trade with the Oakland Athletics, received a 20-fold increase from $420,000 to an average of $8.4 million in a $42 million, five-year contract with the Nationals.

Kershaw, the NL Cy Young Award winner, got a 19-fold increase from $500,000 to an average of $9.5 million as part of a $19 million, two-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Sandoval received the highest percentage raise among position players. After earning $500,000 last year for the San Francisco Giants, the third baseman agreed to a $17.15 million, three-year contract that averages $5.7 million, an 11-fold hike.

Pitcher Andrew Bailey, traded from Oakland to the Boston Red Sox, received the highest percentage raise among players agreeing to one-year contracts, an eight-fold increase from $465,000 to $3.9 million.

Just 11 players received multiyear contracts, down from 14 last year and the fewest since nine in 2004.

The only players whose salaries went down were Milwaukee reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who went from an average of $12.7 million in a three-year contract to $8 million; and Chicago Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart, who dropped $50,000 to $2,237,500.

The average of this year's group rose from $1.95 million to $3.7 million, while the average for the 119 players in arbitration last winter increased from $1.68 million to $3.76 million. The total of players in arbitration this year were the most since 150 in 1992.

For multiyear contracts, figures include average annual values. For 2011, earned bonuses were included.

About a half-dozen more players will become eligible for arbitration next year, when eligibility increases slightly for players with two to three years of major league service, from the top 17 percent by service time to the top 22 percent. They join unsigned players with at least three, but less than six years of service.

Pittsburgh defeated Garrett Jones in the final decision Thursday, and the outfielder will receive the team's offer of $2.25 million rather than his request for $2.5 million.

Teams finished with a 5-2 advantage in arbitration decisions this year, their 14th winning record in 16 years. The seven hearings were more than double the total last year, when players won two of three cases.

Both players who won this year were on the Miami Marlins: pitcher Anibal Sanchez and infielder-outfielder Emilio Bonifacio.

In addition to Jones, four pitchers lost in arbitration: Washington's John Lannan, Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann, Milwaukee's Jose Veras and Baltimore's Brad Bergesen.

Overall, owners lead 291-214 since arbitration began in 1974.

Pirates third baseman Casey McGehee, who had been the last player scheduled for a hearing, agreed to a one-year deal for $2,537,500 -- the midpoint between his request for $2,725,000 and the team's $2.35 million offer.


Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press