February 21, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) Baseball salary arbitration hearings are back in vogue.

Two years after the hearing room went unused for all three weeks, there were 14 decisions this winter - more than the previous four years combined and the most since 2001.

''This year represents a stark contrast to years past,'' players' association head Tony Clark said. ''We'll have to wait and see if this becomes the norm or is simply an exception.''

In the final decisions of the year Saturday, Baltimore beat outfielder Alejandro de Aza, who gets $5 million rather than $5.65 million, and Seattle defeated pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen, who receives $1.4 million instead of $2.2 million.

Teams went 8-6, giving them a 301-221 record since arbitration began in 1974. There were just three hearings last year and none at all in 2013.

''The number of salary arbitrations has always fluctuated year to year,'' said Dan Halem, MLB's chief legal officer. ''Just as I didn't think 2013 was the start of a trend when we had no hearings, I do not think any conclusions can be drawn at this point from the increased number of hearings this year.''

Pittsburgh went to three hearings, and Toronto and Miami to each. They are among the ''file and trial'' teams, who will not negotiate after the sides exchange proposed arbitration figures in mid-January.

A total of 175 players filed in January, up from 146 last year and the most since 150 in 1992.

Players who filed averaged an 88 percent increase from $1.93 million to $3.63 million, according to a study of their contracts by The Associated Press, down from 117 percent last year and just below the 89 percent rise in 2012.

There were only three contracts of more than two years in length, while last year was boosted by steep hikes as part of multiyear deals for Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, and Atlanta's Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel.

St. Louis pitcher Lance Lynn had the largest raise this year at 1,271 percent, from $535,000 to an average of $7.33 million as part of a $22 million, three-year contract.

Cincinnati catcher Devin Mesoraco was next at 1,233 percent, from $525,000 to a $7 million average in a $28 million, four-year deal - the largest total dollars for any player in arbitration this year.

Boston pitcher Wade Miley had a 1,126 percent increase, from $523,500 to a $6.42 million average in a $19.25 million, three-year deal. Reds third baseman Todd Frazier got a tenfold increase, from $600,000 to a $12 million, two-year contract.

Only one player didn't get a raise: Yankees pitcher Ivan Nova's salary stayed at $3.3 million as he comes back from Tommy John surgery. Nova tore a ligament in his right elbow last April 19 during a game against Tampa Bay and had surgery 10 days later. He hopes to rejoin New York in June.

You May Like