Corey Hart and the Brewers passed a deadline of sorts Friday without a contract compromise, and now it appears likely that the team will end its long streak without an arbitration hearing.
Hart, the Brewers’ lone arbitration-eligible player who remains unsigned, filed for a $4.8 million salary in 2010 and the team countered at $4.15 million. The Brewers wanted a deal by the end of business Friday, and club negotiator Teddy Werner and Hart’s agent, Jeff Berry, had a series of discussions this week but were unable to reach an agreement.
Arbitration hearings are scheduled for Feb. 1-21 in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area and Hart’s is still several weeks away. Last year, negotiations with Hart went down to the wire before the sides struck a $3.25 million deal on the eve of a hearing.
“We just don’t have the appetite to go through that again,” Werner said. “We made a good-faith effort to get something done a few weeks ahead of time, but at some point you’ve got to say, ‘It’s time to prepare for a case.’ Nobody wants to go to a hearing, but I don’t want to be in a position in a couple of weeks where we’re back to where we are today, talking about the same number. To me, that’s a waste of time for both sides.
“We didn’t want this to drag out,” Werner added. “We filed a number that we feel is very strong in his process and we were hopeful that we could reach some common ground. They felt like the number that we put out there this week was not appropriate for how they view Corey’s performance.”
Berry wrote in an e-mail that Hart’s salary submission and the midpoint between the player’s filing and the team’s, “are consistent with the established framework for other arbitration eligible players with similar seasons.”
“We’re not rooting for a hearing and we’re not looking to break new ground,” Berry wrote. “We simply want Corey to be compensated at the level which the salary arbitration system has deemed appropriate.”