Kevin Youkilis and the Sox exchanged salary numbers as part of the arbitration process, and because of the sizeable gap between numbers –Youkilis is asking $3.7 million, the Sox offered $2.525 million –it will be interesting to see whether the Sox elect to play hardball with their first baseman.
Last season, the sides could not agree on a contract figure, the club eventually renewing him at $424,500. The Sox have not gone to an arbitration hearing since Theo Epstein became GM prior to the 2003 season, though they came close last spring with Wily Mo Pena, the sides striking a deal about an hour before a scheduled hearing. The sides were only $475,000 apart before Pena signed for $1.875 million, below the midpoint.
There were 110 players eligible for salary arbitration this winter; of that number, 48 players actually exchanged salary numbers with their clubs. Last season, 106 players filed for arbitration, 56 exchanged numbers, and only 7 players went to a hearing. The clubs won 4 of those hearings, making it 11 straight years in which teams have won the majority of rulings.
Youkilis is coming off a terrific season in which to make a case for the kind of bump he is seeking, finishing third among AL qualifiers at first base in batting average, second in OBP and second in OPS. He also won a Gold Glove after going the entire season without making an error.
Reliever Kyle Snyder also swapped numbers with the club, asking for $1.025m with the club offering $725,000. Earlier today, the Sox third arbitration-eligible player, reliever Javier Lopez, came to terms on a one-year, $840,000 contract.