Orel Hershiser, not at all unfamiliar with the mechanics of baseball's salary arbitration hearings, avoided a third consecutive trip to the arbitration table with the Dodgers on Monday by agreeing to a $1.1 million contract for the 1988 season.
Hershiser, whose hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, will receive a $300,000 raise from last season. The 29-year-old right-hander went 16-16 in 1987 but was among the National League leaders in earned-run average at 3.06, complete games with 10 and innings pitched with 264.
Had the Dodgers and Hershiser gone to arbitration, it would have been a rubber match after two previous high-profile decisions.
In 1986, Hershiser was awarded $1 million in arbitration after finishing 19-3. Last winter, however, an arbitrator ruled that Hershiser would have to accept a pay cut to $800,000. At the time, it was only the second time a premier player had received a pay cut in arbitration. "I'm very glad we were able to come to this agreement," Hershiser said in a statement released by the club. "I am looking forward to a very successful season for myself and the team."
Hershiser was unavailable for further comment.
The Dodgers also reached an agreement with utility infielder Dave Anderson, whom sources said will make $262,500 for the upcoming season. Anderson had sought $285,000 in the arbitration process, while the Dodgers offered $240,000.
Compromise agreements with Hershiser and Anderson, both represented by Florida-based agent Robert Fraley, conclude a busy winter of eluding arbitration hearings for the Dodgers. Six Dodgers filed on Jan. 15, but the club systematically settled each case.
"In all the cases, we really didn't approach it like we wouldn't want to go to arbitration," Fred Claire, Dodger executive vice president said. "That's not being realistic. But we did set certain guidelines, and in each case, we had a point we did not want to cross. In Orel's case, we spent a lot of time because of the nature of it."
By far the most noteworthy was Hershiser's settlement. His salary of $1.1 million, which makes him the second highest paid Dodger starting pitcher behind Fernando Valenzuela, is the arbitration figure Hershiser submitted a year ago after he went 14-14 with a 3.85 ERA.
"You don't miss (going to) arbitration or try to avoid it when you negotiate," Fraley said Monday. "You just do what you feel is best for your client."
Fraley met with Claire in Los Angeles about two weeks ago concerning Hershiser, but mostly negotiated with Dodger lawyer Bob Walker. Claire, in turn, met with Hershiser at Dodger Stadium on Monday in attempt to secure a compromise.
Last season, Dodger management would hardly budge from its original $800,000 offer to Hershiser. But this time, Fraley said he noticed a distinct openness with the Dodgers.
"Certainly, there was a lot more discussion than last year," Fraley said. "Actually, I think that would be accurate for both years. They wanted to talk, and we wanted to talk.
"We thought we had a good case to present, no question about that. Orel put up some excellent statistics, but, yes, there is always a risk in arbitration. But (arbitration) is nothing we've been adverse to in the past."
Hershiser finished among the league's top pitchers in every category except shutouts last season. He finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting. But Hershiser had a 2-7 record in 11 starts in which the Dodgers scored two or fewer runs.
Said Claire: "I think Orel had a fine year last year."
That statement is quite a departure from former Dodger vice president Al Campanis' remark last winter, when he said during and after the hearing that Hershiser was "mediocre" in 1986.
Claire said he sensed no lingering animosity with Hershiser last season after the pay cut and expects none this season thanks to the salary compromise.
"Orel is a player who has viewed arbitration as part of the process for a player," Claire said. "That is not to say he doesn't have his own feelings, but most important, he doesn't let any feelings carry into the season.
"Even if we had gone to arbitration with Orel again this year, I think he would have put (the result) behind him whether he won or lost."
Robert Fraley, Orel Hershiser's agent, said he had "no meaningful talks" with the Dodgers about a multiyear contract. The Dodgers seemingly have an unspoken policy not to give players more than a one-year contract until after completing five major-league seasons. . . . Steve Sax continues to field ground balls at third base. He worked for more than an hour at Dodger Stadium Monday, under the supervision of coach Joe Amalfitano and Manager Tom Lasorda.