Arbitration hearings are quickly approaching and the Brewers still need to work out contracts for 2011 with Rickie Weeks and Shaun Marcum. With much of the recent focus on Weeks the attention now shifts to Marcum, whose arbitration hearing is scheduled for Thursday if the two sides can't reach a deal before then (versus next Thursday for Weeks).
Marcum made $850,000 in 2010, putting up solid numbers in the difficult AL East in his first year back from Tommy John surgery (13-8, 3.64 ERA, 195.1 IP). He filed for a $5 million salary while the Brewers offered $3 million. This weekend the Minnesota Twins settled at the midpoint ($4.3 million) of the figures exchanged with starting pitcher Francisco Liriano, a player considered comparable to Marcum at this point in their careers. Members of the Tommy John club, both hold 4+ years of Major League service and put up similar 2010 numbers. The main differences between the two lie in Liriano's larger 2010 salary ($1.4 million) and his postseason experience.
Given their similarities, though, Liriano's outcome may serve as a benchmark for the Brewers-Marcum negotiations. Due to the nature of the arbitration hearing where compromise ends and the panel picks either the player's or team's figure, Marcum might simply need to show that he's worth more than $3 million if he ends up at a hearing. Of course there's still time between now and Thursday for the two sides to reach a deal, and negotiations often gain momentum as the deadline nears. They'll probably agree to a salary near the midpoint of their figures, but the Brewers are not guaranteed victory at a hearing-- just think of Corey Hart's improbable win in his arbitration hearing last year after a down 2009.