Pitchers and catchers report today and the first workouts of the spring are scheduled for Friday.
But until baseball hits the field, the fighting continues in the boardrooms.Detroit pitcher Dan Petry became the latest loser in salary arbitration on Thursday and Dwight Gooden's agent called the Mets' latest offer unacceptable.
Petry lost his request for $1.35 million when arbitrator Raymond Goetz chose Detroit's offer of $650,000, a raise of $175,000. Another Tigers' pitcher, Paul Gibson, argued his case Wednesday before arbitrator Stephen Goldberg. Gibson is asking for $565,000, while Detroit is offering a $200,000 raise to $350,000.
Petry's loss left owners ahead 9-5 among the cases that arbitrators decided. Two players settled Wednesday, leaving three remaining in arbitration.
Texas outfielder Pete Incaviglia agreed to $1,675,000, a raise of $850,000, while Toronto shortstop Manny Lee agreed to $712,500, a raise of $332,500.
California third baseman Jack Howell and Toronto pitcher Frank Wills are scheduled for hearings on Thursday in Chicago. The hearing for Pittsburgh's Jose Lind was postponed from Wednesday to Friday in New York after the shortstop had travel difficulties.
Among non-arbitration players, National League Rookie of the Year David Justice agreed with Atlanta on a one-year contract worth approximately $300,000.
While this was going on, Gooden and the New York Mets were jockeying for position in their contract talks. The pitcher, completing a $6.7 million, three-year deal this season, wants an extension similar to the $21.5 million agreement between Roger Clemens and Boston.
The offer New York made Wednesday would make Gooden the third-highest paid player in the game, behind Clemens ($5.38 million a year) and Jose Canseco ($4.7 million a year). But it would be more than Darryl Strawberry's $4.05 million average salary with Los Angeles.
"It's a start," said Gooden's agent, Jim Neader, who termed the offer "not acceptable." Mets general manager Frank Cashen said he would not criticize Boston's deal with Clemens. Cashen then called the contract "inappropriate" and said it showed "questionable wisdom."