Drew among four D-backs up for arbitration

Drew among four D-backs up for arbitration

PHOENIX -- Kevin Towers is 0-2 in salary arbitration hearings during his 14 years as a general manager, but to him either way a hearing plays out is bad news.

"There really are no winners," Towers said. "When you go through it, there's a lot of damage done to the relationship on both sides."

The D-backs have four players eligible for salary arbitration -- shortstop Stephen Drew, second baseman Kelly Johnson, catcher Miguel Montero and left-hander Joe Saunders.

Arbitration-eligible players can begin to file for arbitration Wednesday up until Jan. 15. If the players and team do not reach an agreement by Jan. 18 they exchange salary figures. Hearings take place Feb. 1-21 and a panel of arbitrators must either pick the club's figure or the player's but cannot choose a middle ground.

Players and teams can settle at any time before the panel's decision is announced.

The organization did not go to a hearing with a player during former GM Josh Byrnes' tenure from 2006-2010, though it came close with Conor Jackson in 2009.

With Joe Garagiola Jr., in charge of baseball operations from 1998-2005, the team went to hearings twice beating Jorge Fabregas while losing to Damian Miller.

Towers' previous two cases involved pitcher Joey Hamilton and infielder Todd Walker.

"It's totally a crapshoot," Towers said. "Both of those cases we thought we presented were good strong cases, but the outcome wasn't what we'd hoped for."

The timing of the hearings, coming either just before camps open or while Spring Training is underway, is another reason Towers hopes to avoid them.

"That being said if we have to go we will and we'll present a strong case," Towers said.

Drew avoided arbitration and made $3.4 million last year when he hit .278 with 33 doubles, 15 homers and 61 RBIs while playing good defense at short.

Meanwhile, Johnson made $2.35 million while hitting .284 with 36 doubles, 26 homers and 71 RBIs.

The pair figure to be the hardest to sign for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the disparity over comparable players.

"I'm not going to get into who may be harder to sign or any specifics," Towers said.

The markets for Saunders, who made $3.7 million last year after coming over in a trade from the Angels, and Montero, who avoided arbitration by signing for $2 million last year, are more defined which could make it easier to reach settlements with them.

Last season, the D-backs signed pitcher Edwin Jackson to a two-year deal prior to his hearing and Towers did not rule out the possibility of a multiyear deal for one of the four eligible this year.

"It's not to say we haven't discussed it," Towers said. "But we're very early in the process. We hope to have dialogue with their representatives and sometimes it can end up in a multiyear deal, but it has to be the right deal. They are all four players we value a lot."

It might be hard to reach multiyear deals with any of the players other than Montero given that Johnson and Saunders are just one year away from getting to test free agency for the first time, which is extremely enticing to players. Drew is represented by agent Scott Boras, who likes to take his arbitration-eligible players year by year, though, it's worth noting, though, that Jackson was represented by Boras.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @dbackswriter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.