For players, arbitration pays off big

The Baltimore Sun

Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis and Los Angeles Angels starter Ervin Santana received the steepest raises among the 111 players in salary arbitration, a group that overall earned a record increase of 172 percent, according to a study by the Associated Press.

The rise broke the previous mark of 169 percent set in 1999 and was up sharply from last year's 120 percent hike, partly because the arbitration group started out with a lower average. The 111 players in this year's filing class rose to an average of $3.07 million from $1.13 million.

Last year, the 110 players in arbitration jumped to $3.04 million from $1.38 million. The record average of $3.26 million was set in 2004.

Markakis received a 24-fold increase, from $455,000 last year to an average of just more than $11 million under a six-year, $66.1 million deal the Orioles gave him.

Santana got a 16-fold rise, from $445,000 last season to a $7.5 million average under a four-year, $30 million contract.

Players prevailed, 2-1, in the hearings for their first winning record since going 7-3 in 1996.

Royals:: Outfielder Jose Guillen acknowledged that he had worked with a trainer from the Dominican Republic who has been banned from major league clubhouses.

Guillen, speaking at training camp in Surprise, Ariz., said he worked with Angel Presinal "for a very long time" but that the regimen never included performance-enhancing drugs. Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz and Robinson Cano are among the players who have worked with Presinal.

Nationals:: Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is optimistic about reaching a long-term deal with Washington before Opening Day.

Zimmerman agreed to a one-year, $3.325 million contract Friday and rejoined the team yesterday morning. He was the last player in the major leagues scheduled for an arbitration hearing.

"This is where I want to play," he said.

More Nationals:: Special assistant Jose Rijo is taking a leave of absence after a Major League Baseball investigation revealed a prospect he discovered was older than originally believed.

Team president Stan Kasten said Rijo is still employed by the club.

On Wednesday, it was announced that prospect Esmailyn "Smiley" Gonzalez of the Dominican Republic lied about his age and name.

Et cetera:: The Twins agreed to terms with third baseman Joe Crede on a one-year deal. Crede had 17 homers and 55 RBIs last season for the White Sox but has had back problems. ... The Pirates picked up manager John Russell's contract option for 2010 even though they went 67-95 in his first season. ... Right-hander Kris Benson, an ex-Oriole and the first pick in the 1996 draft by the Pirates, signed a minor league contract with the Rangers. ... Indians outfielder David Dellucci, a former Oriole, will miss at least three exhibition games after he cut his left thumb while packing for spring training.

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