Howard asks for $18 million

Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard asked for $18 million in salary arbitration yesterday, the third-highest figure submitted since the process began in 1974.

Philadelphia offered $14 million to the 2006 National League Most Valuable Player, a raise of $4 million. Howard hit 48 homers and had 146 RBIs last year, helping the Phillies win their first World Series title since 1980.


Houston Astros pitcher Roger Clemens set the record for highest request in arbitration at $22 million in 2005. New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is second at $18.5 million in 2001.

Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder had the second-highest request this year at $8 million. In arbitration for the first time, he was offered $6 million, up from $670,000 last year.


Colorado Rockies third baseman Garrett Atkins was third at $7.95 million. The Rockies offered a raise from $4.44 million to $6.65 million.

Forty-two players reached one-year agreements yesterday just before the exchange. Among them were Seattle Mariners left-hander Erik Bedard ($7.75 million), Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Adam LaRoche ($7.05 million), Yankees outfielder Xavier Nady ($6.55 million) and Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon ($6.25 million).

Bedard, acquired from the Orioles last offseason, received a $750,000 raise. Papelbon, who has 113 saves in 3 1/2 seasons, made $800,000 last season.

Others reaching one-year deals included Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton ($5,475,000) and outfielder Shane Victorino ($3,125,000), Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Russell Martin ($3.9 million) and reliever Jonathan Broxton ($1,825,000), Pirates left-hander Zach Duke ($2.2 million) and New York Mets outfielder Ryan Church ($2.8 million).

While 111 players filed for arbitration Thursday, just 46 exchanged figures with their teams.

For cases that don't settle, hearings will be scheduled for the first 21 days of February. Just eight of 110 players who filed last year went to hearings, and clubs won six. The average increase for those who filed last year was 120 percent.

Et cetera: : The Red Sox traded right-hander David Aardsma to the Mariners for 20-year-old left-hander Fabian Williamson. ... Right-hander Juan Rincon agreed to a minor league contract with the Detroit Tigers. ... Infielder Tadahito Iguchi returned to Japanese baseball, signing a three-year deal with the Chiba Lotte Marines.