Twins, Liriano settle at midpoint

The Twins and left-hander Francisco Liriano avoided arbitration on Saturday by agreeing to terms on a $4.3 million contract for 2011, right at the midpoint of their filings. The deal could have an impact in the Brewers’ talks this week with right-hander Shaun Marcum.

“Liriano is definitely relevant to the Marcum discussions,” Brewers senior director of business operations Teddy Werner said Sunday.
But just how the Liriano settlement will impact Marcum remains to be seen as Werner continues negotiations with Marcum’s agent, Rex Gary. The sides are trying to avoid a hearing that’s believed to be scheduled for Thursday in Phoenix. 
Werner declined to talk specifically about how the Liriano case, or any other involving arbitration-eligible pitchers, could affect Marcum, but it’s easy to see the similarities. 
– Liriano, with 4 years, 104 days of Major League service and coming off a season in which he went 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA in 31 starts, filed for $5 million in arbitration and the Twins offered $3.6 million. 
– Marcum, who has four years, 128 days of service and is coming off a 13-8, 3.64 ERA, 31-start season with the Blue Jays, also filed for $5 million in arbitration. The Brewers offered $3 million. 
But it’s not exactly an apples to apples comparison. Liriano had a significantly higher salary in 2010 — $1.4 million to Marcum’s $850,000. Liriano also won American League Comeback Player of the Year honors and has pitched in the postseason, factors that could come into play as “special accomplishments” in the arbitration process. 
So, both sides could presumably use Liriano’s settlement as part of their argument if the case reaches a hearing room. Marcum’s side would only have to argue that he deserves a salary above the $4 million midpoint, and Liriano’s $4.3 million meets that. The Brewers, though, could point to those “special accomplishments” and the fact that Liriano started at a higher salary last season. 
Liriano would not be the only “comp” mentioned in a hearing. Marcum’s side would probably point to Jonathan Sanchez of the Giants, who earned a raise from $2.1 million to $4.8 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility. Sanchez was 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA in 32 starts and one relief appearance during the regular season, then made four starts in the playoffs.
And the Brewers would probably bring up a different Sanchez, Florida’s Anibal, who went from $1.25 million to $3.7 million after going 13-12 with a 3.55 ERA last season.
As usual in this process, it’s difficult to know which way the judges would rule on Marcum in a hearing. That’s why the sides are working to avoid going that far.
Werner continues to characterize his talks with Gary as “productive.” They last spoke on Friday, and will touch base again early this week in the wake of the Liriano deal.
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