McLouth hopes to avoid arbitration
Tuesday hearing approaches as outfielder, Bucs continue talks
BRADENTON, Fla. -- On Friday, all focus could be on baseball for Nate McLouth, who arrived here to begin working out on Wednesday. But looming over the All-Star outfielder is an arbitration hearing scheduled for next Tuesday in Phoenix.
McLouth is the only one of the Pirates' six arbitration-eligible players still without a contract for 2009.
"It's possible we will be able to reach an agreement, and maybe more so today than when I spoke to you last," said McLouth, who expressed some doubt in January about the potential of an agreement being reached. "I don't know what odds I would put on it or what percentage, but there's a chance."
Any reason behind the new sense of guarded optimism?
"I don't know if I have anything concrete I can tell you, but it's just a feeling I get," McLouth said.
When the Pirates and McLouth exchanged salary figures in mid-January, the difference was quite sizeable. After making $425,000 in 2008, McLouth had submitted a figure of $3.8 million for this season. The Pirates countered with a $2.75 million offer for their starting center fielder.
As has been the case for months now, the Pirates and McLouth are talking exclusively about one-year deals, with the idea of a multiyear contract being something that the two sides have said may be explored again, but only down the road.
The Pirates have not gone to an arbitration hearing with a player since 2004, when Jack Wilson won his case and a $1.85 million salary.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.