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Freeman, Kimbrel, Stanton, Brantley get steepest raises among 146 in salary arbitration

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TAMPA, Fla. - The average raise for a player in salary arbitration was 117 per cent this year, according to a study by The Associated Press, led by steep hikes for Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, Giancarlo Stanton and Michael Brantley.

The 146 players who filed for arbitration averaged $3,859,912 under their new contracts, up from $1,778,081 under their previous deals. The average increase was just below the 119 per cent increase last year.

Atlanta gave Freeman a 30-fold rise from $560,000 to an average of $16,875,000 as part of a $135 million, eight-year contract. The agreement with the first baseman is the largest in team history.

Kimbrel, the Braves' closer, received a 16-fold hike from $560,000 to an average of $10.5 million in a $42 million, four-year deal.

Stanton, a slugging outfielder with the Miami Marlins, got a 12-fold increase from $537,000 to $6.5 million.

Brantley, who led Cleveland in batting average while going errorless in the outfield, saw his salary rise 11-fold, from $526,900 to an average of $6.25 million in a $25 million, four-year agreement.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, a two-time NL Cy Young Award winner, got a threefold raise, but the numbers were far higher because he has five years of major league service and was one season from free agency. After averaging $9.75 million under a two-year deal, the left-hander agreed to a $215 million, seven-year contract, the largest deal for a pitcher in baseball history.

Just 11 players received multiyear contracts, down from 15 last year matching 2012 for the fewest since nine in 2004.

Cincinnati's Aroldis Chapman was the only player whose salary went down, and that's only because his previous contract included a $16.25 million signing bonus after he defected from Cuba. The pitcher averaged $6,325,000 under a deal that covered 2010-13 and paid him a $2 million salary last year.

Chapman was able to void a scheduled $3 million salary for this year because he had enough service time to be eligible for arbitration, and he agreed to a $5 million, one-year contract.

For multiyear contracts, figures in the study included average annual values. For 2013, earned bonuses were included.

Texas pitcher Neftali Feliz received a 3 per cent raise from $2.9 million to $3 million after returning in August from elbow ligament replacement surgery and pitching 4 2-3 scoreless innings in six games. New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis got a 12 per cent raise from $3,125,000 to $3.5 million after hitting .205 with nine homers, 33 RBIs and 101 strikeouts in 317 at-bats. He was demoted to the minors for nearly a month last summer.

After every case settled before a hearing last year — the first time that happened since the process began in 1974, clubs won two of three decisions this year. Teams have a 293-215 advantage overall and have had a winning record in 15 of the past 17 years with decisions.

Cleveland defeated pitchers Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin in the Indians' first cases since 1991 that went to hearings. Pitcher Andrew Cashner beat San Diego.

The three decisions matched 2005, 2009 and 2011 for the second-fewest in a year. The number of hearings peaked at 35 in 1986.

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