BASEBALL

Maddux, Braves $2.5 million apart


Published: Saturday, January 18, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 17, 2003 at 11:43 p.m.

NEW YORK - Greg Maddux asked for $16 million in arbitration Friday, and Torii Hunter got the biggest deal among the dozens of players who settled their cases, agreeing to a $32 million, four-year contract with Minnesota.

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Boston Red Sox batter Trot Nixon hits a bases loaded single to knock in two runs off Tampa Bay Devil Rays reliever Esteban Yan during the ninth inning, in this Sept. 12, 2002 photo at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Red Sox agreed to one-year contract with outfielder Trot Nixon on Friday, avoiding salary arbitration.

AP Photo/Steve Nesius

``Yesterday it happened so fast, I was like, 'We're going to get this deal done,''' Hunter said. ``They came to where I felt it was fair for both sides. I commend them for getting there. Thank you!''

Maddux's request fell short of Derek Jeter's $18.5 million record request two years ago but was easily the largest among the 34 players left in arbitration.

``Greg Maddux personally reviewed all the information, studied all the pitchers and told me where he thought he placed himself among the pitchers today,'' agent Scott Boras said. ``He just wanted to do something very fair, something very reserved in my mind.''

The Braves countered with a $13.5 million offer, leaving them with the biggest spread between any player and team.

``We submitted our number in arbitration and they submitted theirs,'' general manager John Schuerholz said. ``Both sides, when it's done, feel like they can defend their number.''

Maddux's former teammate, Kevin Millwood, settled for $9.9 million with the Philadelphia Phillies in one of 38 deals among the 72 players who filed for arbitration Wednesday. Twenty players settled Friday.

Outfielder J.D. Drew will get $3.7 million from St. Louis, and third baseman Adrian Beltre agreed to a $3.7 million contract with Los Angeles.

Toronto outfielder Shannon Stewart asked for the second-highest salary among those who filed at $7.5 million, and the Blue Jays offered $5.5 million.

Montreal starter Javier Vazquez asked for $7.15 million, with the Expos offering $6 million; outfielder Carlos Beltran asked for $6.95 million from Kansas City, with the Royals offering $6 million; and Seattle All-Star starter Freddy Garcia asked for $6,875,000, with the Mariners offering $5.9 million.

Pitcher Danny Graves settled with the Cincinnati Reds on a $17.25 million, three-year contract after exchanging figures.

The Florida Marlins settled three cases Friday, agreeing on one-year contracts with first baseman Derek Lee ($4.25 million), starter Brad Penny ($1,875,000) and reliever Armando Almanza $775,000.

The Boston Red Sox also settled two cases, agreeing to a $4 million deal with outfielder Trot Nixon and a $610,000 contract with outfielder Benny Agbayani.

Other settlements were: Seattle outfielder Randy Winn ($3.3 million); Toronto starter Roy Halladay ($3.825 million) and reliever Cliff Politte ($845,000); Colorado outfielder Jay Payton ($1.85 million) and pitcher Justin Speier ($850,000); Houston infielder Geoff Blum ($1.5 million); Atlanta catcher Henry Blanco ($1.3 million); Arizona outfielder David Dellucci ($900,000); Pittsburgh reliever Matt Herges ($825,000); and Cubs reliever Kyle Farnsworth ($600,000).

Hunter batted .289 with 29 homers, 94 RBIs and 23 stolen bases in 2002. He finished sixth in the AL MVP voting and won his second Gold Glove in leading the small-market Twins to the AL championship series.

``He had a nice year, but he's certainly capable of doing better,'' GM Terry Ryan said. ``He had a fabulous first half, then in the second half, things started to get a little dicey.''

In recent years, owner Carl Pohlad has come under fire for not signing high-profile free agents, but he has spent money to keep the Twins together. Last year he signed starter Joe Mays to a $20 million, four-year contract, and he gave ace Brad Radke a $36 million, four-year extension in 2000.

Millwood, who made $4.1 million last season in the final year of his contract, was traded from Atlanta to the Phillies in December for catcher Johnny Estrada in a cost-cutting deal for the Braves.

Millwood was 18-8 with a 3.24 ERA last season, helping the Braves win an unprecedented 11th straight division title.

The Phillies traded for him when they missed out on free agents Tom Glavine and Jamie Moyer.

Other notable filings include Chicago White Sox closer Billy Koch who asked for $5.9 million compared to the $4.25 million the team offered.

Orlando Hernandez, acquired this week by Montreal in a three-way deal from the Yankees, asked for $4.5 million with the team offering $4 million.

The smallest spread was between reliever B.J. Ryan and Baltimore with the Orioles offering $700,000 and Ryan asking for $825,000.

The 35 figures exchanged was down from 42 last season. Unless the sides settle, the cases will be heard by three-person panels of arbitrators from Feb. 1-21.

Most of the players who filed for arbitration will agree to contracts before hearings. Last year, only five players had their cases decided by the three-arbitrator panels with teams winning four of them.

In free agent signings, Oakland agreed to one-year deals with left-handers Ed Yarnall ($600,000) and John Halama.

Houston signed starter Brian Moehler to a one-year deal; Pittsburgh agreed to minor league deals with righty Jeff D'Amico and infielder Jose Fernandez; and Los Angeles signed utilityman Terry Shumpert to a minor league deal.

In a deal last Thursday night, the Dodgers avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $3.4 million deal with lefty Odalis Perez.

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