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Dates set for arbitration hearings

Major League Baseball has set the dates for arbitration hearings for Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Nate McLouth. Maholm’s case will be heard Feb. 10 and McLouth’s Feb. 17.

Both players asked for $3.8 million in arbitration. The Pirates countered with an offer of $2.75 million for McLouth and $2.65 million for Maholm. If the cases go to hearings, the arbitrators must pick either one number or the other.

The two sides may continue to negotiate until the announcement of the arbitrators’ decision. The Pirates had hoped to sign McLouth and Maholm to multi-year deals, but chances of that happening are slim. Friday, during the annual Hot Stove Lunch with reporters, McLouth was pessimistic a long-term deal could get done. Maholm, however, said he was still very open to a longer deal and was hopeful something could be worked out before the hearing date.

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