As the hours tick away, the possibility grows that the first opponent of right-hander Shaun Marcum’s Brewers career will be the Brewers themselves.
Marcum’s agent, Rex Gary, and Brewers senior director of business operations Teddy Werner have so far been unable to reach an agreement with Brewers on a 2011 contract for his client. If the sides remain deadlocked they would face off in an arbitration hearing that’s believed to be set for Thursday in Phoenix.
Marcum, acquired from the Blue Jays in early December, filed for $5 million as a second-time arbitration-eligible player. The Brewers offered $3 million.
Gary traveled to Phoenix on Wednesday and did not return messages this week from MLB.com. Werner said he remained hopeful of avoiding the hearing room.
“We’ve been working very hard in the event we’re in a position of arguing the case in front of panel of arbitrators,” Werner said. “But I have learned that in a lot of these cases you have to let the process play out. In 2008, I think we settled with J.J. Hardy only 24 hours before a hearing was scheduled. In 2009 with Corey Hart, we settled about day before. Then last year, we went to a hearing with Corey.
“We have still not come to an agreement with Shaun, but you have to let the process play out. Every negotiation is a separate animal. Right now, we don’t have a deal, but we’re hopeful we’ll put one in place and if not, we’ll go to the hearing room.”
Like last year’s hearing with outfielder Corey Hart, the Brewers would use outside counsel to argue their case on Thursday. A three-member panel of judges would hear arguments from both sides, then issue a ruling on Friday. They would choose one salary filing or the other, and would not be required to explain the decision.
The first case of 2011 was decided Wednesday, when the arbitrators ruled in favor of Pirates pitcher Ross Ohlendorf.
The 29-year-old Marcum cost the Brewers their top offensive prospect, Brett Lawrie, and will be part of a remade starting rotation that includes three 2010 Opening Day starters with Marcum, Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo. After missing all of 2009 while rehabbing from Tommy John elbow surgery, Marcum bounced-back to go 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 31 starts and 195 1/3 innings in 2010, impressive numbers in the tough American League East. He earned $850,000 last season.
This isn’t exactly the way the Brewers wanted to begin their relationship with Marcum. But it’s just business, Werner said.
“In a perfect world, we would have a deal with Shaun before we have to go into a hearing,” Werner said. “We’re still working on coming up with the appropriate salary for him.”
Marcum is one of two arbitration-eligible Brewers players still unsigned. The other is second baseman Rickie Weeks, who has a hearing scheduled for Feb. 17.