01/17/2003 5:15 pm ET
Beltran, Ibañez file for arbitration
Both players among top offensive performers in 2002
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
Salary arbitration figuresKANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Royals submitted numbers Friday for possible
arbitration hearings with outfielders Carlos Beltran and Raul Ibañez. But
they hope hearings won't ultimately be necessary for a couple of their
2002 offensive leaders.
Beltran is asking for $6.95 million and the Royals are offering $6
million. Ibañez asked for $3.4 million and the Royals are offering $2.75
million. A meeting to schedule possible hearings will take place next week
and the sides will have a negotiating window to make a deal until those
The Royals have long maintained that avoiding arbitration hearings is the
best course of action if it's fiscally prudent. By avoiding a hearing, the
club is spared from having to argue against its own player.
"Yes, that's the goal," Royals' assistant general manager Muzzy Jackson
said. "You look at a mid-point, but you don't do a deal just because it's
in the middle. It has to make sense with regards to the payroll."
Beltran, who has two more years of arbitration eligibility, made $3.5
million in 2002. He was one of just six Major League players who
appeared in all 162 games last year. The 25-year-old Beltran hit .273
with 29 home runs, 35 steals and 105 runs batted in.
The Royals recently explored the possibility of signing Beltran beyond his
arbitration years, but Beltran turned down about $25 million over three
seasons and doesn't want to give up a year of free agency.
Allard Baird has since said he doesn't think he can sign Beltran long-term
at this juncture and thus the "untouchable" label has been lifted. But the
Royals have also made it clear that they aren't about to overreact and
won't trade Beltran for anything less than full market value that would
address both short-term and long-term needs.
"We still have him under control for two more years," Jackson said.
"Nothing is imminent."
Baird said Friday he has had a few preliminary discussions regarding
Beltran, but added that he isn't actively shopping him and nothing is
"Our focus right now is that he's our starting center fielder," Baird
Ibañez made $800,000 last year. He hit .294 with 24 home runs and 103 runs
batted in. He was the Royals' Player of the Month in July and August.
Last year, the Royals went into the offseason with seven
arbitration-eligible players, but only Neifi Perez wound up having an
arbitration hearing. Kansas City offered $4.1 million and Perez asked for
$5 million, with an arbitrator selecting the Royals' figure.
The Royals would prefer zero hearings this year.
"Ideally, we'd like to be able to sign both players (Beltran and
Ibañez)," Baird said.
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to
approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.