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Hot Stone League

Larry Stone gives his take on a wide array of baseball issues and weighs in about the Mariners, too.

December 1, 2009 at 4:25 PM

Arbitration offers: It’s the Type A’s that matter most

Now that the Mariners have offered arbitration to free agent Adrian Beltre but not Erik Bedard (I batted .500 on that prediction; obviously, the Mariners feared that Bedard would accept arbitration and weren’t willing to take that risk), a couple of thoughts:

  • Keep in mind that the decision by a team to offer arbitration does not mean they are cutting ties with that player. There is nothing to keep them from signing a player to whom they did not offer arbitration. All the offer does is determination whether they get draft-pick compensation if the player signs elsewhere. In the old days, a free agent not offered arbitration couldn’t re-sign with his old team until May 1, but that rule was changed a few years back. (In 1986, Tim Raines didn’t re-sign with the Montreal Expos until May 1 — there was some collusion going on, it turned out — and still wound up winning the National League batting title with a .334 average. The same Tim Raines that should get more Hall of Fame attention than he’s getting. But that’s another story).

  • While it has ramifications to each individual team, the arbitration decision for Type B free agents should have no affect on their marketability. That is because teams that sign Type B free agents don’t have to give up a draft pick, regardless of whether arbitration is offered or not. The compensation to teams that lose Type B free agents (assuming they were offered arbitration) is a supplemental pick between the first and second round. In other words, an extra pick added on, not one that is given up by another team.

  • That said, the arbitration decision for Type A free agents — those ranked in the top 20 percent at their position by Elias’s formula — is crucial for their marketability. Just ask Orlando Hudson and Juan Cruz, who were rated Type A’s last year and for the longest time couldn’t find a team willing to give up a first-round draft pick to sign them. The Diamondbacks even pondered doing a sign-and-trade deal to get around that. It doesn’t matter much for the big boys — John Lackey, Jason Bay and Matt Holliday are the cream of this year’s crop — because teams that covet them will be willing to give up a top draft pick. But for the likes of middle relievers and non-superstars, it can be a curse if their team decides to offer arbitration. No one wants to give up their coveted No. 1 pick for, say, Kevin Gregg.

    Not all the decisions are available yet, but with help from the good folks at MLBtraderumors.com, here are the Type A’s who got an early Christmas gift today by not being offered arbitration: Darren Oliver, LaTroy Hawkins, Octavio Dotel, Kevin Gregg, Placido Polanco, Orlando Hudson, Miguel Tejada, Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye and Randy Wolf.

    Those who did get arbitration offers: Matt Holliday, Billy Wagner, Jason Bay, Marco Scutaro, Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, Rafael Betancourt and Jose Valverde. (And new word that Chone Figgins and John Lackey were offered arbitration — no shock there).

    Expect teams to begin to zero in on the former list now that they can sign them without giving up a draft pick.

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