The difference between the two sides came down to $300,000 as the Rays center fielder sought a raise from $435,000 to $3.3 million, while the Rays drew the line at $3 million.
Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman recently said of the situation with Upton that both sides were "culpable" for not getting a deal done and that "both sides lose" when a case goes to a hearing. Upton agreed with Friedman's sentiments.
"I think it's unfortunate that it had to come to this, but I think both sides understand that," said Upton at the end of January. "We both understand that's the business, and if that's what needs to happen, that's what needs to happen. ... I don't think anybody ever wants to actually go to a hearing. I think they understand and I understand."
Upton hit .241 with 11 home runs, 55 RBIs and 42 stolen bases in 2009 after coming back from left shoulder surgery following the '08 season. Among the highlights Upton put together in '09 were a steal of home and becoming the first Rays player to hit for the cycle, which made him the first Major Leaguer since Houston's Jeff Bagwell in 2001 to hit for the cycle and steal home in the same season.
Of concern any time a player goes to arbitration are the negative feelings that can be created during the hearing. There are many who believe that those negative feelings created in Dioner Navarro's arbitration hearing last year contributed to the subpar season by the Rays catcher in 2009. Win or lose, Upton doesn't anticipate the hearing affecting his play in '10.
"No, not at all," Upton said. "It's just kind of the way the business is and you know what it is going into it and you're prepared for it, so like I said, both sides will do what they need to do, but the main goal is to win championships."
Tampa Bay is unbeaten in four salary-arbitration cases, and under the current Rays regime, the team is unbeaten in three cases, with two of those going against former Rays catcher Josh Paul and the other going against Navarro.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.