Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports on the team's arbitration hearing with centerfielder B.J. Upton. Despite the relatively small difference of $300,000 between the two, no long term deal was reached prior to this morning's hearing. The arbitrators - Gil Vernon, Elizabeth Neumeier and Elliott Shriftman - are expected to render a decision on Saturday.
The Rays had offered him a $3 million contract for next season compared to the $3.3 million deal he was looking for when the two exchanged figures on January 19th. Splitting the difference would have meant a $3.15 million contract for the 25 year old Upton - a 624% raise over the $435,000 he made in 2009. This is his first year of arbitration eligibility.
Upton assumed the bulk of the centerfield responsibilities for the Rays after the All-Star Break in 2007. The start of that season saw him trying to latch on at second base, the position he had played primarily in the minors. He had an off year in 2009, posting a batting line of .241/.313/.373 in 626 plate appearances. He remains a serious threat on the bases swiping 42 bases on the year, a follow up to the 44 he stole in 2008.
Upton's hearing reduces the number of pending cases to eight. Tampa Bay has yet to lose in arbitration hearings, posting wins in the previous four decisions. He was the only pending case for the Rays. Hearings began Thursday with announcement that Corey Hart won his case over the Brewers coming on Friday. The remaining hearings will take place over the next week for the players who have not come to terms with their teams. Please visit the arbitration scorecard for more information on this year's hearings as well as historical hearings data. The list of the players who exchanged numbers on January 19th can be found on the arbitration figures page.
Joe Tetreault is a member of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey.
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