Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel expects Scott Boras and Prince Fielder to aim sky-high when they file his salary arbitration request. Fielder and Boras turned down an extension of 5 years, $60MM last season to "focus on his first year of arbitration eligibility," says Haudricourt. Last season Ryan Howard won his case for $10MM. Haudricourt makes a statistical comparison of the two sluggers in their first year of salary arbitration:
Fielder: .278 AVG, 114 HR, 312 RBI, .533 slugging percentage and .370 on-base percentage in 513 games.
Howard, as of last season: .291 AVG, 129 HR, 353 RBI, a slugging percentage above .600 and an on-base percentage approaching .400, in 410 games.
Assistant GM Gord Ash said, "The number we put in has to be defendable in the event it goes to a hearing. We’ve been able to settle these situations in the past and that’s our preference, but we’ll go to a hearing if we have to." Haudricourt adds:
"The Brewers budgeted the expected increase in Fielder’s salary into their 2009 payroll and are prepared to pay it. But the expectation of a contentious arbitration hearing as well as Fielder’s likely exodus as a free agent after the 2011 season have prompted some to suggest the Brewers should trade him now. The thinking is that the closer Fielder gets to free agency, the less the Brewers would get in return for a player they have no chance of keeping long-term. But the club also wants to follow up on its 2008 playoff breakthrough and won’t trade Fielder merely to head off financial conflicts in the future."