Today is another step in the salary arbitration process, which for the Dodgers affects both James Loney and Hong-Chih Kuo. The Dodgers agreed to a one-year contract on Tuesday with Chad Billingsley, worth $6.275 million, but couldn't come to terms with their other two arbitration-eligible players. Loney submitted a salary of $5.25 million on Tuesday, while the Dodgers submitted a salary of $4.7 million. Kuo submitted a salary of $3.075 million, while the Dodgers submitted a salary of $2.55 million.
The next step is to schedule an arbitration hearing, which would take place between February 1-18, likely in Phoenix. If history is any guide, we will find out the date of said hearings today (see: Cody Ross hearing date revealed Monday, January 25, 2010; and Andre Ethier hearing date revealed Monday, January 26, 2009). However, just because a hearing is scheduled doesn't mean the two sides won't agree on a deal beforehand. The last arbitration hearing the Dodgers had was in 2007 with Joe Beimel. Ethier and the club agreed to a deal just minutes before his hearing was scheduled to begin in 2009.
If either or both of Loney or Kuo do in fact see the inside of a hearing, representatives for both player and club will present their case to a three-person arbitration panel. After both sides are done, the arbiters will pick one salary or the other, with no in between. The arbitration hearing can often lead to the undesirable situation in which the team has to convince the panel that the player isn't as good as he thinks he is. Last year, Doug Miller of MLB.com recalled this arbitration anecdote:
When Mike Scioscia was in the midst of a sterling career as the catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, he walked into a late 1985 arbitration hearing with plenty of confidence, having just finished second in the National League with a .407 on-base percentage for a division-winning club.
Well, as is often the case in arbitration, he didn't exactly hear what he wanted.
The club told Scioscia that the hardly-fleet-of-foot backstop was actually getting on base too much and therefore clogging up the bases to the detriment of the offense.
Using the arbitration database from the great Maury Brown at Biz of Baseball, we can see that Scioscia wanted $825,000 in 1986 while the Dodgers offered $650,000. Hours after said arbitration hearing, Scioscia and the Dodgers agreed to a three-year, $2.7 million contract, which paid him $800,000 in 1986, with an option for a fourth season.
So while at some point today, we will likely find out when Loney and Kuo will be scheduled for their arbitration hearing(s), it doesn't necessarily mean that hearing will come to pass. I expect both players to reach contract agreements with the Dodgers beforehand.