D-backs near arbitration with Jackson

D-backs near hearing with Jackson

PHOENIX -- The D-backs and Conor Jackson have a little more than a week to settle on a contract before going to a salary arbitration hearing.

Jackson's hearing, which will be in front of a three-man panel, is scheduled for Feb. 18. He is the lone Arizona player eligible for salary arbitration that has not signed.

The D-backs, like all clubs, prefer to avoid going to a hearing. In fact, should Jackson's case get that far, it would be the first time since Josh Byrnes took over as general manager in November 2005.

While Byrnes declined comment and Jackson's agent, Mark Pieper, did not return a phone message, it is believed the two sides continue to talk in hopes of reaching an agreement.

Jackson filed an arbitration figure of $3.65 million, while the club countered with $2.45 million. The 49 percent difference between the two was the sixth-highest among players who filed arbitration figures.

One of the factors that complicates a deal is the fact that Jackson is part of a class of players that includes Andre Ethier, Jeff Francoeur, Mike Jacobs and Josh Willingham, among others. Should one or more of the players settle, it could have an impact on the others.

Jackson hit .300 with 12 homers and 75 RBIs last year. In each of the past two seasons, his OPS+ (a weighted measure of on-base plus slugging percentage) was 110, which roughly translates to being 10 percent better than average.

Hot Stove

An outfielder in the Minor Leagues, Jackson switched to first base during Spring Training in 2005. The 26-year-old moved back to left field last July when Eric Byrnes went on the disabled list for the remainder of the season.

Arizona manager Bob Melvin has said that Jackson will head into Spring Training as the team's starting left fielder.

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