MLB.com's Bill Chastain has the story that Tampa Bay remained perfect in arbitration decisions, as the Rays won their hearing with centerfielder B.J. Upton. The panel of arbitrators returned their verdict Saturday afternoon, evening the owners record at 1-1 against the players. Brewers right fielder Corey Hart won his case on Friday.
The Rays offer of $3 million for next season will be Upton's salary. He had requested a $3.3 million deal when the two exchanged figures on January 19th. This is his Upton's first year of arbitration eligibility. In spite of losing, Upton will get a 590% raise over the $435,000 he made in 2009. The Rays have won all 5 hearings that they have gone to.
The Rays are hopeful Upton can rediscover the swing that made him a key part of their 2008 AL Pennant winning team. He posted a batting line of .273/.383/.401 in 640 plate appearances in 2008. His power was significantly off from 2007, when he clubbed 24 homeruns in 129 games, the last two years, having played through a shoulder injury in 2008 and recovering from surgery in 2009. Should he reassemble his batting stroke, rediscover his power and remain fleet afoot on the basepaths in 2010, Upton will be a tremendous bargain for the club next season.
The number of pending cases remains at eight. Tampa Bay has concluded the arbitration process for this offseason. Both the club and Upton have held hopes for a long term deal, which will likely be revisited next year, if not sooner. 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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