Rays have five players eligible for arbitration

Rays have five players eligible for arbitration

Rays have five players eligible for arbitration
ST. PETERSBURG -- Joel Peralta came to terms on a contract with the Rays on Monday to avoid going to arbitration with the team, but Tampa Bay still has five arbitration-eligible players -- Burke Badenhop, J.P. Howell, Jeff Niemann, David Price and B.J. Upton -- whose fates are yet to be determined.

Players with less than six years of service time are eligible for salary arbitration if they do not have a contract for the next season. They must have been tendered a contract offer by their current team by the tender deadline, and they cannot agree on a new contract with their team.

In addition, these players must have either been on a Major League roster or disabled list for at least three years, or they must have at least two years of Major League service but less than three, and be among the top 17 percent for cumulative playing time in the Major Leagues in this class of players. The latter must also have been on an active Major League roster for at least 86 days in the previous season.

The date for the club and player to exchange arbitration figures is Jan. 17; salary arbitration hearings take place from Feb. 1-17.

While teams can continue to negotiate with a player right up until their arbitration hearings, the Rays' self-imposed policy is to conclude their negotiating by the numbers-filing deadline. The club's exception to this post-filing numbers deadline is to negotiate a multiyear deal.

Upton made $4.825 million in 2011 and avoided arbitration, unlike in '10, when Tampa Bay won the case with its center fielder and paid him $3 million rather than $3.3 million. He came on strong in 2011, finishing the season with a .243 batting average, 23 home runs, 81 RBIs and 36 stolen bases.

Niemann made $903,000 in 2011. Though he spent a month and a half on the disabled list with a lower back strain, he went 11-7 with a 4.06 ERA in his third full Major League season.

Price reached Super Two status, which allowed him to earn an extra year of arbitration eligibility based on service time. He exercised his right to opt out of the final year of the contract he signed with the Rays in 2007. That deal paid him $8.5 million, and he would have made $2.433 million in 2012 had he not decided to opt out. He went 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA in 34 starts in '11, logging an impressive 224 1/3 innings.

Howell returned to the team in mid-May after missing the entire 2010 season due to left shoulder surgery. After a rough beginning in which he posted a 10.32 ERA in his first 15 appearances, he compiled a 3.72 ERA in 31 outings. He served as the team's closer for much of the 2009 season, when he had 17 saves in 69 appearances. He made $1.1 million in '11.

Badenhop was recently acquired from the Marlins in a trade for a Minor League catcher. The right-hander made $750,000 in 2011, when he went 2-3 with a 4.10 ERA in 50 games for the Marlins.

Tampa Bay remains unbeaten in five salary-arbitration cases, and under the current Rays regime, the team is unbeaten in four cases, with two of those going against former catcher Josh Paul and the other going against Dioner Navarro.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.