MLB: Lincecum among 128 players to file for arbitration
By RONALD BLUM
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK — Two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum highlighted the list of 128 players who filed for salary arbitration Friday, with many likely to gain enormous raises in the annual process.
Lincecum has been one of baseball’s best bargains, earning $405,000 from the San Francisco Giants in 2008 and $650,000 last season, when he became the NL’s first repeat Cy Young winner since Randy Johnson from 1999-02.
The deadline for players to file for arbitration was Friday. Lincecum is eligible for the first time and figures to earn $10 million or more this year after going 33-12 over the past two seasons.
Other notable players eligible for the first time include Tampa Bay pitcher Matt Garza, Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton, Chicago White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin and Tampa Bay outfielder B.J. Upton.
Also due for big raises are Seattle pitcher Felix Hernandez, White Sox closer Bobby Jenks, Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon and Philadelphia outfielder Shane Victorino. The Mariners hope to strike a long-term deal with Hernandez, 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA last year, when he finished second in AL Cy Young voting.
While more than 200 players were eligible for arbitration when the season ended, clubs let many of them become free agents and already agreed to contracts with others. Among those who filed Friday, at least half are likely to settle before players and teams swap proposed salaries on Tuesday.
For those who don’t settle, hearings will be scheduled for the first three weeks of February in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The 111 players in arbitration last year earned a record average increase of 172 percent to $3.07 million, according to a study by The Associated Press.
Players with three to six years of major league service are eligible, along with the top 17 percent by service time of players between two and three years. In addition, two free-agent pitchers accepted arbitration offers to return to their former clubs: Minnesota’s Carl Pavano and Colorado’s Rafael Betancourt.
The Twins had eight players who filed for arbitration, tied for most in the majors with the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago Cubs.
New York Mets pitcher John Maine became the first of the 128 in arbitration to settle, agreeing to a $3.3 million, one-year contract that includes the chance to make $225,000 in performance bonuses based on starts. Houston infielder Jeff Keppinger agreed to a $1.15 million, one-year contract, and Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp then finalized a $10.95 million, two-year deal.
Eight players agreed to one-year contracts Friday instead of filing, including Arizona outfielder Conor Jackson ($3.1 million) and catcher Miguel Montero ($2 million), and a pair of Texas pitchers: Brandon McCarthy ($1.3 million) and Dustin Nippert ($665,000).
San Diego closer Heath Bell ($4 million), Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley ($3.85 million), San Francisco reliever Brandon Medders ($820,000) and Houston pitcher Chris Sampson ($815,000) also agreed to contracts.
Among free agents, first baseman Adam LaRoche and Arizona finalized a one-year contract that guarantees him $6 million. LaRoche gets $4.5 million this year, and the deal includes a $7.5 million mutual option for 2011 with a $1.5 million buyout. LaRoche receives the buyout if either side declines, and if he gets traded the option price would increase to $9.5 million.
The 30-year-old hit .277 for Atlanta, Boston and Pittsburgh last season with 25 homers and 83 RBIs. He has a .274 career average in six seasons.
“He’s really a consistent, middle-of-the-order threat,” Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes said.
To make room for LaRoche on the 40-man roster, Arizona designated outfielder Eric Byrnes for assignment. Byrnes is owed $11 million for the final year of a three-year, $30 million contract.
In other news, San Diego agreed to trade third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and a minor leaguer to Oakland for outfielders Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham, according to a person familiar with the deal.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday evening because the trade was pending physicals and neither team had made an announcement.
Also, Cleveland agreed to an $850,000, one-year contract with free-agent catcher Mike Redmond.