Originally created 02/20/00

Rivera, Johnson and Stevens lose in arbitration



NEW YORK -- Mariano Rivera, Charles Johnson and Lee Stevens all lost their salary arbitration cases Saturday, giving owners a 6-4 win over players this year.

Owners have won the majority of cases for four consecutive years, and hold a 242-185 lead over players since arbitration began in 1974.

Rivera, the World Series MVP for the New York Yankees, will get a raise from $4.25 million to $7.25 million rather than his request for $9.25 million.

Johnson, the starting catcher for the Baltimore Orioles, gets a raise from $3.6 million to $4.6 million instead of $5.1 million. He has lost in arbitration in two straight years after winning in 1998.

Stevens, a first baseman for the Texas Rangers, gets $3.5 million instead of $4.7 million. He made $2.1 million last year.

While Rivera lost, it's the highest salary ever awarded in arbitration, topping the $5.4 million Chicago White Sox pitcher Jack McDowell got when he lost his case in 1994.

"Looks like somebody died in here," Rivera joked after learning of the ruling at the Yankees' training complex in Tampa, Fla.

"I'm not upset at all. It's very good money. I'm happy to be here and I'm glad it's over. I just have to concentrate on what I have to do this year."

Last year, Rivera beat the Yankees in arbitration, getting a huge raise from the $750,000 he made in 1998. New York had submitted a $3 million figure last winter.

"I'm not pleased or displeased with anybody," Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said. "I just came here to tell him to keep his mind on the game and that we'd be behind him even if he won. He'll be fine. He's my pal. That's how it's going to be."

Arbitrators Howard Block, Elisabeth Neumeier and Alan Symonette made their decision Saturday, two days after hearing the case.

Rivera, who turned down a $36 million, four-year offer, seeking $40 million or more, was 4-3 with 45 saves and didn't allow a run in his final 28 regular-season appearances last year, a span of 30 2-3 innings.

New York's payroll is at $92,211,810 for 22 signed players.

Johnson also filed for $5.1 million last year. Even before learning of the decisions by arbitrators Stephen Goldberg, Ted High and Neumeier, he was angry.

"When you're $500,000 away and can't reach the midpoint, the chances of me staying here long-term are slim," he said Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "This is the second time I've done this with the Orioles, and I really don't see me staying here that much longer."

Stevens hit .282 with 24 homers and 81 RBIs last year. His case was decided by I.B. Helburn, Reginald Alleyne and Block.