The Padres, bracing themselves for an annual payroll that will escalate to a franchise record of at least $22 million, watched all six of their eligible players file for arbitration Tuesday.
First baseman Fred McGriff and catcher Benito Santiago each are expected to submit arbitration figures exceeding $2 million, and infielder/outfielder Bip Roberts is expected to become the 10th Padre player to earn at least $1 million this season.
Also filing Tuesday were outfielder Darrin Jackson, and pitchers Calvin Schiraldi and Wes Gardner.
The highest arbitration figure submitted in baseball belongs to Robin Yount of the Milwaukee Brewers, who filed for $3.4 million last year, while the Brewers countered with $3.2 million.
Sanitago received the highest award in Padre history a year ago when he was awarded $1.25 million in the arbitration hearing.
The Padres and players will submit salary figures Friday morning, and exchange figures in the afternoon. If they do not settle their differences, an arbitrator will hear their cases, scheduled Feb. 1-Feb. 21 in either Los Angeles, Chicago or New York.
The Padres announced the signing of catcher Brian Dorsett to a triple-A contract. Dorsett, 29, who has spent parts of four seasons in the major leagues, batted .272 with 14 homers and 67 RBIs for the New York Yankees’ triple-A Columbus team last year. He also played in 14 games for the Yankees, hitting .143.
Dorsett and Dann Bilardello, who was signed Monday, will compete in spring training with Tom Lampkin for the Padres’ backup job behind Santiago. Joe McIlvaine, Padre general manager, said that he also plans to bring in at least one more catcher into camp.
The Padres have extended spring-training invitations to six players signed to minor-league contracts: second baseman Marty Barrett, pitchers Tim Scott and Brian Holton, infielder Craig Shipley, and Dorsett and Bilardello.
The Padres had only 18 big-league prospects in their minor-league system at the end of last season, according to the Major League Scouting Bureau. Only the Cincinnati Reds, with 17, had fewer prospects. The Dodgers had the most with 35.
Also, in a study by Baseball America, scouts rated the Padres’ top-10 prospects: 1) right-handed reliever Rafael Valdez; 2) left-hander Robbie Beckett; 3) first baseman Dave Staton; 4) outfielder Thomas Howard; 5) right-hander Ricky Bones; 6) shortstop Scott Bream; 7) third baseman Steve Martin; 8) right-hander Scott Sanders; 9) third baseman Tom Redington; and 10) outfielder Craig Pueschner.