Thanks to Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors, we are able to present the list of players who were and weren't offered salary arbitration by their 2008 teams. In all, 24 players have until Sunday at midnight to accept or reject the offer of arbitration. This total compares to 17 last year.
There are 15 Type A and nine Type B players. Type A free agents are among the top 20 percent of players at their position, as defined by the formula created in the 1981 strike settlement. Type Bs are from 21-40 percent. Teams receive two extra draft picks in the First-Year Player Draft next June if they lose a Type A player (a first or second round spot from the team that signed him and a "sandwich" pick after the first round conferred by MLB) and a sandwich pick if they lose a Type B. The first 15 selections are protected, which means the compensation becomes a supplemental pick and the second-round choice that belonged to the other team. Clubs do not receive any compensation for losing unranked players.
Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, teams retain the right to negotiate and enter into a contract agreement with any of their free agents, regardless of whether arbitration was offered. There are no longer any deadlines for such negotiations.
Salaries can be cut by a maximum of 20% in arbitration. Many cases will not be heard until February, which limits the flexibility of teams when it comes to making other deals this winter. Furthermore, clubs do not want to be put in the position of having salaries determined by a third party, especially in a recessionary economic environment.
The "middle class" of free agents are looking at a buyer's market whereby procuring multi-year deals will prove to be more difficult than normal. The surprise may be that a few big-name players accept arbitration rather than face the uncertainty of free agency.
Look for the action to pick up at the winter meetings, which open next Monday in Las Vegas. In the meantime, only three of the 171 players who filed for free agency last month have agreed to contracts. Ryan Dempster agreed to a new four-year, $52 million contract with the Cubs. Jeremy Affeldt left the Reds and inked a two-year, $8 million deal with the Giants. Mike Hampton reached a preliminary agreement on a one-year, $2 million contract (plus $2M in performance bonuses) with the Astros.
Comments: The Dunn trade no longer looks favorable for the D-Backs. Losing Dallas Buck, Wilkin Castillo and Micah Owings for two months of Dunn seems silly in the face of not re-signing or offering arbitration to the slugger who has hit 40 or more homers and walked at least 100 times in each of the past five seasons.
Comments: The Braves didn't offer arbitration to Tom Glavine either. However, it would not be a surprise if Atlanta re-signed Smoltz should the veteran righthander be willing to take a meaningful pay cut from the $12M he made last year.
Boston Red Sox
Comments: The Red Sox really can't lose with Varitek. Either he agrees to arbitration and comes back for one year (which is the max Boston cares to go at this point in his career) or the Sox pick up a couple draft picks.
Comments: Wood just became more attractive to other teams now that they won't have to give up a first-round draft pick.
Comments: If Cabrera accepts, he could be the bridge to Gordon Beckham, who isn't expected to arrive on the scene until 2010. Otherwise, look for Alexei Ramirez to move from second base to shortstop to fill the hole created by Cabrera's departure.
Offered: David Weathers (Type B)
Comments: A low-risk move on the part of the Reds. Weathers made $2.75M last year. The 39-year old is unlikely to get more than $3M in 2009 unless the arbitrator focuses on his 3.25 ERA rather than the fact that he gave up more hits than innings pitched and had just a 2:1 strikeout-to-unintentional walk ratio (1.5:1 including IBB).
Offered: Brian Fuentes (Type A)
Comments: Fuentes lost his arbitration case last year and is likely to take advantage of his free agency to seek the riches of a long-term deal with another club.
Comments: Detroit declined its $11M 2009 club option in October on the heels of the 33-year-old shortstop's disappointing season when he hit just .270/.317/.382 and was no better than mediocre in the field. Look for Renteria to sign a two-year deal with a National League team, possibly the Giants.
Comments: No real surprises here. Rhodes will hook up with another team as a LOOGY (35.1 IP in 61 games in 2008).
Comments: Houston declined its $3.25M 2009 option on the 41-year-old Brocail on October 1. He can eat up some innings in the bullpen for another club now that he won't cost a first-round draft pick. The decision not to offer Wolf arbitration is a bit puzzling.
Offered: Mark Grudzielanek (Type B)
Comments: Grudzielanek made $4.5 million last season. He may not match that figure as a free agent but apparently the 38-year-old second baseman wants to play for a contender.
Comments: There is no chance that Teixeira or Rodriguez accept arbitration. On the other hand, the Angels will get a boatload of draft picks should Tex and K-Rod move on. Hard to believe that Oliver is a Type A free agent. That designation will limit interest from other clubs. Look for him and Garland (who would be assured of getting at least $9.6M if he returned) to take the Angels up on their arbitration offers. Anderson has already hired Scott Boras and apparently is looking for a multi-year deal. Good luck, GA.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Comments: The Dodgers also failed to offer arbitration to Rafael Furcal, who is neither a Type A or B free agent owing to missed playing time from injuries the past two seasons.
Comments: Don't be surprised if Sheets accepts. Sure, he wants a long-term deal but the market may not be there given the combination of his questionable health and the slumping economy.
Offered: Dennys Reyes (Type B)
Comments: Reyes only made a million dollars in each of the past two seasons. He will either double his salary in arbitration (which poses little risk to the Twins) or take this opportunity to ink a two-year deal with another club.
Comments: The Mets chose not to offer arbitration to Pedro Martinez. It will be interesting to see not only where he ends up but what kind of a deal he will sign.
Comments: Brian Cashman claims to have interest in negotiating with Abreu and Pettitte if either is willing to sign for considerably less than the $16 million they made last year. Mussina announced his retirement last month. It's unlikely that he will pull a Roger Clemens and sign with another team.
Comments: This could be the end of the line for the Big Hurt, who should but may not wind up in the Hall of Fame five years after his retirement.
Comments: Not as surprised about Burrell as others. He earned $14M last year and may have been awarded an even larger salary in arbitration. The Phillies are still hopeful of re-signing Moyer, who made $8.5 million in 2008.
Comments: The Padres and Hoffman part ways after 16 seasons. The two sides are no longer a good fit. It's just too bad things ended the way they did.
Offered: Raul Ibanez (Type A)
Comments: Ibanez has been one of the most underrated and underpaid players in baseball. He signed a two-year extension in March 2006 and earned just $5.5M in each of the past two seasons. The 36-year old outfielder is unlikely to accept arbitration but could re-sign with the Mariners if he is granted a two- or three-year deal at a much higher average annual salary.
Comments: Looper was a relatively cheap signing (3 years/$13.5M) when he signed with the Cardinals as a free agent in December 2005. He is line to make a lot more than the $5.5M he earned last season and was too big of a risk to take in an arbitration setting.
Offered: Milton Bradley (Type B)
Comments: Bradley, who led the AL in OBP and OPS, is unlikely to accept arbitration. He signed a one-year, $5M contract last year and is reportedly seeking a four-year deal for an average annual salary of at least $10M.
Comments: Burnett opted out of the final two seasons of his five-year contract, forgoing the $24 million owed him to test the free-agent market once again. The Blue Jays would like to keep him but are in competition for his services with several other clubs, including the Red Sox and the Yankees.
GM for a day question: Which decisions do you disagree with and why?