|Tuesday, February 18
Updated: March 13, 1:06 PM ET
Arbitrators rule in favor of Expos' $6M offer
A panel of three arbitrators ruled Tuesday in favor of the club's $6 million offer for this season over Vazquez's request for $7.15 million. The case was heard Monday.
The ruling by arbitrators Elisabeth Neumeier, Dan Brent and Matthew Finkin could help the Expos avoid more trades like the Jan. 15 deal that saw ace Bartolo Colon shipped to the Chicago White Sox in order to save about $8 million.
"I hope it gives us more of an opportunity to keep the team we have now,'' general manager Omar Minaya said. "It will help us keep our team intact.''
Vazquez made $4.275 million last season when he went 10-13 with a 3.91 ERA in 230 1/3 innings.
Also Tuesday, the Toronto Blue Jays settled their case with outfielder Shannon Stewart by agreeing on a one-year contract worth $6.2 million. Stewart had asked for $7.5 million, and the Blue Jays offered $5.5 million.
"I'm happy with what we agreed upon,'' Stewart said on a conference call.
"My whole thing was not to go to arbitration. It can get ugly and no player wants to sit through that,'' he said. "The most important thing was to get something done and get the season started.''
The 28-year-old Stewart, who will be eligible for free agency after this season, hit .303 with 10 home runs and 45 RBI in 2002. He has a .302 career batting average with 66 homers, 321 RBI and 162 stolen bases in 784 games.
"We were close and had an opportunity to meet with his agent, Jeff Moorad, this morning and got it done,'' Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "We feel fine with the number, it's the number we felt we would get it done at.''
The last arbitration case was heard Tuesday, with pitcher A.J. Burnett and the Florida Marlins arguing their case in front of arbitrators Brent, Carol Wittenberg, Howard Block.
Burnett, who made $367,500 last season, asked for $3,075,000, while the Marlins countered with a $2.5 million offer.
The owners have won four of the six cases that went to hearings so far, assuring them of a seventh straight winning arbitration season.