The Pittsburgh Pirates have offered Bobby Bonilla a four-year contract worth $15.5 million that would make him their best-paid player ever.

Team president Carl Barger said the offer includes a signing bonus of $750,000. Bonilla's agent refused to confirm the figures. Bonilla's salary arbitration hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

The Pirates made the proposal before the Boston Red Sox signed pitcher Roger Clemens to a five-year contract extension worth $21.5 million, making Clemens the game's highest-paid player.

Barger said Red Sox General Manager Lou Gorman had poor timing.

"It's ridiculous, an aberration," Barger said. "I've read where agents have said the Clemens signing take players' salaries to another plateau -- the $5 million-a-year plateau. Clemens was already under contract for 1991. Why did he have to do it before this year's arbitration cases? I can think of no logical, or even illogical, reason that prompted him to do it."

Bonilla has asked an arbitrator to award him a one-year contract worth $3.475 million. The Pirates offered $2.4 million. He made $1.25 million last year.

Second baseman Jerry Browne lost his arbitration bid for $1.1 million but the Cleveland Indians' offer of $800,000 still more than doubled last year's salary of $310,000. He hit .267 last year with six homers and 50 RBI. The season before, he led the Indians at .299.

Phillies shortstop Dickie Thon lost too, leaving the arbitration scoreboard tied, 3-3, with 49 cases remaining.

Arbitrator Reg Alleyne chose the Phillies' offer of $1.25 million over Thon's request for $1.7 million.

On Saturday, Vernon awarded California Angels first baseman Wally Joyner a salary of $2.1 million. Yesterday, that was determined to be the first $2 million salary awarded in arbitration.