Part of the growing-up process in baseball is arbitration.
For management, it's considered the foundation for the spiral that continually drives salaries to previously unreached heights.
For the players, it's an important step toward financial security.
So, when Baltimore Orioles general manager Roland Hemond reaches his office this morning, he expects to be greeted by notification that six of his players are potential arbitration cases.
The Orioles have a history of avoiding this procedure, but Hemond is realistic enough to know that it can't always be avoided. And with six unsigned players eligible, the chances of the Orioles going through the process are significantly increased.
First baseman Randy Milligan, outfielders Mike Devereaux and Brady Anderson, infielder Bill Ripken, designated hitter Sam Horn and pitcher Bob Milacki all were expected to file for arbitration before last night's deadline.
Hemond had not received official notification, but expected to be informed today that all six had filed.
"It's a normal part of the process," said Hemond. "You negotiate, they file, then you continue to negotiate, and then you find out if you have to go [to arbitration]."
This is the first time, however, that the Orioles have had to deal with this many potential arbitration players since he joined the Orioles after the 1987 season. But he said that shouldn't be considered unusual.
"We had a lot of young players who didn't fit in [to the arbitration process]," said Hemond. "Now they've matured to the point where they have three years of service in the major leagues."
Of the Orioles' six potential arbitration cases, Ripken is the only one who was eligible before. The second baseman signed a $700,000 contract before last year's deadline.
Of the others, none figures to grab baseball's financial headlines, but Milligan has the strongest case and almost certainly will move into the million-dollar category. The first baseman has put together three solid years and is coming off a year in which he hit .263, with 16 home runs and 70 RBI while making $330,000 -- almost $600,000 below last year's average salary.
Right behind Milligan in the raise department is Devereaux, who made $210,00 last season and hit 19 home runs with 59 RBI.
Horn, who produced 23 homers, also figures to get a dramatic increase from his $205,000 salary last year.
Milacki was paid $280,000 as the Orioles' only 10-game winner last year, and Anderson, who had a poor year put finished strong, earned less than $200,000.
Ripken, Anderson and Horn are all on the Orioles' team cruise, which departed last Saturday, so their negotiations were stalled.
Once players have filed for arbitration, both sides have 72 hours to file proposals for hearings that will be scheduled next month. "That's the next step of the process," said Hemond. "Then we'll continue to negotiate."
And, eventually, the Orioles will find out how many, if any, arbitration cases they have on their hands. It's all part of the growing-up process.