Fontenot earns last spot in arbitration

NEW YORK -- Chicago Cubs infielder Mike Fontenot earned the last arbitration spot for players with between two and three years of major league service, beating out Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones and Cincinnati Reds pitcher Micah Owings on a tiebreaker.

All three had 2 years, 139 days of service time, and ties are broken by service time in each immediately preceding season. Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds, who had 44 homers and 102 RBIs, had 2 years, 138 days.

Fontenot hit .236 last season with nine homers and 43 RBIs. Jones, a first-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, batted .277 with 19 homers and 70 RBIs. Owings was 7-12 with a 5.34 ERA in 19 starts and seven relief appearances.

Fontenot made $430,000 last season, while Owings earned $420,000, Reynolds $422,500 and Jones $435,000. Arizona figures to save several million dollars next year because Reynolds fell short.

Since the 1990 labor agreement, the top 17 percent of players with at least two and less than three years of service time are eligible for arbitration along with players with at least three years but less than six -- when they become eligible for free agency.

Among the so-called super 2s are San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Garza, Cubs pitcher Tom Gorzelanny, Kansas City Royals third baseman Alex Gordon, Orioles pitcher Matt Albers, Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens, Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence, Texas Rangers pitcher Dustin Nippert and newly acquired Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez.

Players may file for arbitration in mid-January and those who don't settle go to hearings the following month, with three-arbitrator panels selecting the salary proposed by either the player or club.

Clubs may unilaterally set the salaries of players who don't have enough service time to be in arbitration -- provided the salary is at least the major league minimum of $400,000 and complies with rules limiting the amount of paycuts.