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To Arbitrate, Or Not To

Time's up agents and GM, hand over your figures.

Over the past 24 hours, hosts of players have avoided arbitration by coming to terms on one-year (or, occasionally longer) deals with their incumbent teams. Who, you ask? Well, here's some of the big names: Jonathan Papelbon ($6.25M), Bobby Jenks ($5.6M), Erik Bedard ($7.75M), Xavier Nady ($6.55M), Shane "The Flyin' Hawaiian" Victorino ($3.125M), Adam Laroche ($7.05M) and Russell Martin (whose $3.9M deal sets a record for first-year arbitration eligible catchers).

Still, for every player who plays "Lets make a deal!" with his team, there are some bigger name free agents who hold out and head to a hearing. The biggest among them, both physically and statistically, are Ryan Howard and Prince Fielder. Arbitration terms submitted by both teams and players at noon today are starting to trickle in, and it's no surprise that both those stars put in for sizable salaries, with Howard's leading the way by a mile.

So what did the World Series champion first baseman file for? Try $18 million. Just for the sake of comparison, the Phillies want to pay him $14 million. That's only a $4 million difference, but four million is a nice pitcher. Think about it that way. As for Fielder, he's asking for $8 million, with the Brewers submitting for $6 million.

The full list of terms for players and teams may not be fully fleshed out for another couple hours, but there are three more cases that seem to stand out. Andre Etheir is asking for $3.75 million from the Dodgers, who are offering $2.65 million; Diamondbacks left fielder Conor Jackson wants a similar $3.65 million from Arizona, which is only offering $2.45 million; and last but not least, the Tigers' Justin Verlander filed for $4.15 million, compared with Detroit's offer of $3.2 million.

What do people think? Which of these cases is more significant (if you answer anyone besides Howard, there has to be a pretty good reason). And which side is going to win when the cases are taken up over the next week? For the record, I'll go with Howard > Phillies, Fielder > Brewers, Dodgers > Ethier, Jackson > Diamondbacks and Tigers > Verlander. That's three players and two teams from the early high-profile five, which is not exactly in line with last year's results. In 2008, teams won six of the eight hearings, so this would be a pretty seismic shift in percentage of winning players. Thoughts?

By Cameron Smith  |  January 20, 2009; 5:11 PM ET
Categories:  Brewers , Diamondbacks , Dodgers , Mariners , Phillies , Pirates , Red Sox , Tigers , White Sox , Yankees  
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Next: Update: Even More Arbitration Numbers

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