Last year, when Ryan Howard went into the arbitration hearings, he wound up winning big with a record-tying $10 million salary for the 2008 season.
This year -- arbitration hearing or not -- he'll rake in an even bigger prize.
Figures were exchanged between clubs and their remaining arbitration-eligible players on Tuesday, and Howard, fresh off winning the home run and RBI crown, has asked for $18 million. The Phillies, however, have offered $14 million.
The suggested salary by Howard is the third-highest figure submitted since the arbitration process began in 1974. Roger Clemens set the record for highest request in arbitration, asking the Astros for $22 million in 2005. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter is second at $18.5 million in 2001. Both players signed deals before their cases were heard.
But Howard is a special player.
In just his fifth year in the Major Leagues, the 29-year-old lefty slugger blasted 48 home runs and 146 RBIs as his team claimed a World Series title.
The next step could be yet another arbitration hearing -- which first-year general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. refers to as "a necessary evil" -- that could be scheduled at any point from Feb. 1-21. Clubs could negotiate with their players up to that point.
Howard is not eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season.
The Phillies' other potential arbitration cases are Jayson Werth and Chad Durbin. Werth, a free agent after the '09 season, submitted $4 million, while the club offered $3 million. Durbin is asking for $1.95 million, and the club is sitting at $1.35 million.
The Phillies ended the arbitration filing period with eight players. Since then, Cole Hamels and Ryan Madson have agreed to three-year deals, Greg Dobbs has signed on for two years, and on Tuesday, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton agreed to one-year deals.
Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.