Drabek, the first of three Pirates seeking $3 million in arbitration, was offered $2.4 million. He also rejected a $2.7 million offer two days before Wednesday's hearing before arbitrator Raymond Goetz.
"We're delighted . . . but we thought we clearly won," said Drabek's agent, Randy Hendricks. "The Pirates were respectful and cordial in negotiations, but they came in with a low-ball figure. This represents the flow of the market."
Drabek, 28, becomes the fourth-highest-paid pitcher in baseball behind Roger Clemens, Dave Stewart and Bob Welch. He is the first Pirate and the 38th player to make $3 million.
Drabek won $1.1 million in arbitration last year, when he was 22-6 with a 2.78 ERA for the National League East champions. He was a near-unanimous choice for the Cy Young Award, receiving 23 of a possible 24 first-place votes.
Only last Saturday, California Angels first baseman Wally Joyner became the first player to top $2 million in arbitration.
Drabek's record may not last long, however. Outfielder Bobby Bonilla and the Pirates argued their case yesterday, and Bonilla is asking for $3,475,000. NL Most Valuable Player Barry Bonds, who is seeking $3.25 million from the Pirates, will have his hearing today in Chicago.
Drabek becomes the highest-paid player in Pirates' history, topping left-hander Zane Smith's four-year, $10.6 million deal.
The Hendricks brothers -- Randy and Alan -- also negotiated Clemens' record $21.5 million contract with the Boston Red Sox last week, but said they didn't use that deal to argue Drabek's case.
"The [Pirates'] number was just too low, considering the evolving changes in this business," Randy Hendricks said.
Pirates president Carl Barger, a crusader in holding the line against baseball's skyrocketing salaries, said he was disappointed.
"Doug is deserving of a generous salary . . . but this is another example of the unchecked escalation of salaries that's currently plaguing our industry," Barger said. "We thought we made a generous offer."
The Pirates must pay $11 million in raises if they lose their four arbitration cases -- or more than their 1989 payroll. Second baseman Jose Lind's hearing is next week.
Bonilla, who can become a free agent after 1991, has rejected a four-year, $15.5 million offer. The Pirates reportedly increased that offer in an unsuccessful effort to prevent today's hearing.
The Pirates' case against Bonilla received a substantial blow when first baseman Glenn Davis of the Baltimore Orioles avoided arbitration by signing for $3,275,000.
"It certainly doesn't do us any good," Barger said.
"Sometimes I get the feeling I'm going to aberration hearings insteadof arbitration hearings," general manager Larry Doughty said.
Since last Friday, the Hendricks brothers have negotiated Kelly Gruber's $11 million, three-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and Chuck Finley's $2.5 million, one-year contract with California.
The four deals total $38,356,000 over nine years, an average of $4,261,778 per season.
How major-league baseball players have fared thus far in arbitration hearings. An arbitrator chooses either the player's or the club's salary figure (all figures are in thousands):
Player, club Asked Offered
Drabek, Pit $3,335 $2,300
Joyner, Cal $2,100 $1,650
Alomar, Tor $1,250 $825
Aldrete, Mon $510 $350
Santiago, SD $2,500 $1,650
Thon, Phi $1,700 $1,250
Belcher, LA $1,350 $900
Browne, Cle $1,100 $800