Running for ten days until January 15, baseball’s arbitration filing period begins. The biggest name in this year’s group is Ryan Howard, who set a record last year with a $10 million arbitration contract. With 48 homers and 146 RBIs last season plus winning the World Series, baseball insiders feel Howard could get close to $15 million, setting another arbitration record.

According to MLB.com, the process of arbitration is:

… the player presents the higher figure and the club the lower figure. A panel of three arbitrators must choose between the two after arguments are presented by both sides at yet-to-be-scheduled hearings from Feb. 1-21. Those players who elect to possibly go to a hearing must swap figures with their clubs on Jan. 21.

Since 1974, only 12 percent of the filings have gone to a full hearing, including eight last year, six of them won by the clubs.

In 2008, of the 110 players who filed, only 48 actually exchanged figures with their respective clubs, and 40 of those were settled without a hearing.

Last year, Chien-Ming Wang went to arbitration against the Yankees, asking for $4.6 million. He lost, earning $4 million instead. This year he signed without a hearing for $5 million.

The Yankees also need to make offers to Melky Cabrera (around $750,000), Xavier Nady (around $6 million) and Brian Bruney ($1.1 million).