Willis, Cabrera, Morneau and Mauer head arbitration filings


NEW YORK (AP) – Batting champions Joe Mauer and Freddy Sanchez and AL MVP Justin Morneau were among 106 players who filed Friday for salary arbitration, set to get big raises for next season.

Florida’s Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera also filed, as did Joe Crede of the Chicago White Sox.

Morneau and Mauer were bargains last year for the Minnesota Twins. Morneau, who made $385,000, won the MVP award after hitting .321 with 34 homers and 130 RBIs.

Mauer, who made $400,000, hit .347 and became the first catcher to win the AL batting title, and the first in either league since Ernie Lombardi hit .330 for the 1942 Boston Braves.

Sanchez, who made $342,000, also is eligible for arbitration for the first time. He batted .344 for the Pittsburgh Pirates to finish five points ahead of Cabrera in the NL batting race. Cabrera hit .339 with 26 homers and 114 RBIs, and he made $472,000.

Willis, the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year, got a raise from $378,500 to $4.35 million when he was eligible for the first time last year, and he went 12-12 with a 3.87 ERA for the Marlins.

Crede, like Willis eligible to become a free agent after the 2008 season, hit .283 with 30 homers and 94 RBIs.

Players and teams will swap proposed arbitration figures on Tuesday unless they reach agreements by then. Hearings will be scheduled for the first three weeks of February.

Included in the group that filed were Milwaukee second baseman Tony Graffanino and San Diego second baseman Todd Walker, who became free agents and then accepted salary arbitration offers last month from their former clubs.

Players in arbitration averaged a 109 percent increase last year, when management won four of six cases that went to hearings. Owners lead players 269-200 since arbitration began in 1974.

Six players who had been eligible for arbitration agreed to contracts Friday, including St. Louis left-hander Randy Flores, who got a $1.8 million, two-year deal. Agreeing to one-year contracts were Arizona right-handers Jorge Julio ($3.6 million) and Juan Cruz ($1,437,500), New York Mets left-hander Oliver Perez ($2,325,000), San Diego shortstop Khalil Greene ($2.25 million) and Boston right-hander Kyle Snyder ($535,000).

Right-hander Rodrigo Lopez, who filed for arbitration, was traded by Baltimore to Colorado for minor league right-handers Jim Miller and Jason Burch. The Orioles also agreed to a $775,000, one-year contract with right-hander Todd Williams, who became a free agent last month when Baltimore failed to offer a 2007 contract.

The San Francisco Giants were the only team that did not have a player file for arbitration.

Five free agents agreed to minor league contracts: outfielder Richard Hidalgo with Houston, right-hander Felix Rodriguez with Florida, left-hander Brandon Claussen with Washington, infielder Alex S. Gonzalez with Kansas City and infielder Tomas Perez with the Chicago Cubs.

Right-hander Jeff Nelson wanted to retire as a member of the New York Yankees, a team he helped to four World Series titles, so the 40-year-old right-hander agreed to a minor league contract and then said he won’t play any more.