Baseball BeatDecember 02, 2008
Arb Barbs
By Rich Lederer

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.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Offered: Juan Cruz (Type A), Orlando Hudson (Type A) and Brandon Lyon (Type B)
Declined: Adam Dunn (Type A) and Randy Johnson (Type B)

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.

Atlanta Braves

Offered: None
Not Offered: John Smoltz (Type B)

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.

Baltimore Orioles

Offered: None
Not Offered: None

Boston Red Sox

Offered: Paul Byrd (Type B) and Jason Varitek (Type A)
Not Offered: None

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.

Chicago Cubs

Offered: None
Not Offered: Bob Howry (Type A) and Kerry Wood (Type A)

Comments: Wood just became more attractive to other teams now that they won't have to give up a first-round draft pick.

Chicago White Sox

Offered: Orlando Cabrera (Type A)
Not Offered: Ken Griffey Jr. (Type B) and Juan Uribe (Type B)

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.

Cincinnati Reds

Offered: David Weathers (Type B)
Not Offered: None

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).

Cleveland Indians

Offered: None
Not Offered: None

Colorado Rockies

Offered: Brian Fuentes (Type A)
Not Offered: None

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.

Detroit Tigers

Offered: None
Not Offered: Edgar Renteria (Type A)

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.

Florida Marlins

Offered: None
Not Offered: Paul Lo Duca, Luis Gonzalez and Arthur Rhodes (all Type Bs)

Comments: No real surprises here. Rhodes will hook up with another team as a LOOGY (35.1 IP in 61 games in 2008).

Houston Astros

Offered: None
Not Offered: Doug Brocail (Type A), Mark Loretta (Type B) and Randy Wolf (Type B)

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.

Kansas City Royals

Offered: Mark Grudzielanek (Type B)
Not Offered:

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.

Los Angeles Angels

Offered: Jon Garland (Type B), Darren Oliver (Type A), Francisco Rodriguez (Type A) and Mark Teixeira (Type A)
Not Offered: Garret Anderson (Type B)

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

Offered: Casey Blake (Type B), Derek Lowe (Type A) and Manny Ramirez (Type A)
Not Offered: Joe Beimel, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux, and Brad Penny (all Type Bs)

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.

Milwaukee Brewers

Offered: C.C. Sabathia (Type A), Ben Sheets (Type A) and Brian Shouse (Type B)
Not Offered: Eric Gagne (Type B)

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.

Minnesota Twins

Offered: Dennys Reyes (Type B)
Not Offered: None

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.

New York Mets

Offered: Oliver Perez (Type A)
Not Offered: Moises Alou (Type B) and Luis Ayala (Type B)

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.

New York Yankees

Offered: None
Not Offered: Bobby Abreu (Type A), Mike Mussina (Type A), Andy Pettitte (Type A) and Ivan Rodriguez (Type B)

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.

Oakland Athletics

Offered: None
Not Offered: Alan Embree (Type B) and Frank Thomas (Type B)

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.

Philadelphia Phillies

Offered: None
Not Offered: Pat Burrell (Type A), Jamie Moyer (Type A) and Rudy Seanez (Type B)

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.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Offered: None
Not Offered: None

San Diego Padres

Offered: None
Not Offered: Trevor Hoffman (Type A)

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.

San Francisco Giants

Offered: None
Not Offered: None

Seattle Mariners

Offered: Raul Ibanez (Type A)
Not Offered: None

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.

St. Louis Cardinals

Offered: None
Not Offered: Jason Isringhausen (Type B), Braden Looper (Type B) and Russ Springer (Type A)

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.

Tampa Bay Rays

Offered: None
Not Offered: None

Texas Rangers

Offered: Milton Bradley (Type B)
Not Offered: None

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.

Toronto Blue Jays

Offered: A.J. Burnett (Type A)
Not Offered: Gregg Zaun (Type B)

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.

Washington Nationals

Offered: None
Not Offered: None

* * *

GM for a day question: Which decisions do you disagree with and why?


I don't get the Reds not offering Dunn. The risk he would take it would be small, and financially less than the difference between his actual value and what they might have to eat if they chose to trade him.

In the big picture, how can you not trade the guy at the break if you're not going to get anything in return at the end of the year?

Agreed that the Adam Dunn not being offered was a big mistake by Arizona, 13.5 million isn't that much especially on a one year deal, if nothing else you have a very tradeable deadline contract.

Not nearly as big as a mistake but still a bad decision imo was the Cubs not offering Howry arbitration. His strikeout rate was still solid and wouldn't make any more in arbitration. The only thing that ruined his season was a high home run rate. Kerry Wood was also a mistake, a pretty big one as there was no real downside to offering him.

The Marlins not offering to Rhodes is a little perplexing, I believe he was an NRI for the M's so he didn't have a large salary, worst comes to worst you trade him mid-season. Same thing applies to the Dodgers and Joe Beimel

zaun was not offered by the Jays just to help with your list

Funny how the guy who's so quick to jump on everybody else's mistakes forgets that Dunn was traded to the D'backs. Maybe it'll teach me a lesson. Still can't figure out why he wasn't arb-worthy.

Can't you cut a player after the arbitration determination, whether he wins or loses, and just be responsible for a small portion of his salary. If so, I don't see why more teams don't do that. For example, the Yanks could offer IRod arbitration, but tell him they have no intention of keeping him. If he accepts arbitration, they cut him in spring training, and he has a hard time hooking on with another team. If he declines arbitration, the Yanks get a sandwich pick. The only downside I think is exposing a spot on the 40 man roster.

Re Stephen Raymond's comment above, I have added Gregg Zaun to Toronto's list. Thank you. I had seen conflicting reports previously but double checked and confirmed that Zaun is indeed a Type B player.

Courtesy of Pete Abraham, here is the complete list of Type A and B players who were offered arbitration (viewed by players rather than by teams as presented above). I added Oliver Perez to the list as his name was inadvertently left off.

Type A:
A.J. Burnett
Orlando Cabrera
Juan Cruz
Brian Fuentes
Orlando Hudson
Raul Ibanez
Derek Lowe
Darren Oliver
Oliver Perez
Manny Ramirez
Francisco Rodriguez
CC Sabathia
Ben Sheets
Mark Teixeira
Jason Varitek

Type B:
Casey Blake
Milton Bradley
Paul Byrd
Jon Garland
Mark Grudzielanek
Brandon Lyon
Dennys Reyes
Brian Shouse
David Weathers

Lastly, with respect to Jon's idea, that is a good one in theory but the MLBPA would never allow it. In order to cut a player who settled for arbitration, it's my understanding that a team would need to prove that he was the worst option at that position on the 25-man roster. Possible in some cases. Unlikely in most.

The Mets didn't have to offer Pedro Martinez arbitration. He is an unranked player.

Rich, the 20% salary cut rule only applies to arbitration on players who aren't free agents. Adam Dunn, for example, could have his salary cut as much as necessary, though it would be incredibly unlikely to happen. Here's the CBA citation Aritcle XX, Section B (3), page 72:

"If the Player accepts the offer to arbitrate, he shall be a signed player for the next season and the parties will conduct a salary arbitration
proceeding under Article VI; provided, however, that the rules concerning maximum salary reduction set forth in Article VI shall be inapplicable and the parties shall be required to exchange figures on the last day established for the exchange of salary arbitration figures under Article VI."

Erik: Yes, I'm aware that Pedro was unranked. In fact, that's precisely why I didn't list him along with Alou and Ayala under "Not Offered." I only mentioned Martinez as a point of interest in the comments just as I did for Tom Glavine and Rafael Furcal.

Rich, I'm a bit confused. Varitek is a Type A and Bradley is a Type B. How is that possible? You say at the beginning of the article Type A's are top 20% at position, Type B's 21-40%. Is this calculated over a course of a few years? I just don't see how Varitek would be Type A after last season and how Bradley would NOT be Type A after last season.

Stoney: The rankings are grouped by positions and based on statistics compiled by the Elias Sports Bureau from the previous two seasons.

All players (including those who are not free agents) are put into one of five groups. The designated position is the one at which the player appeared the most over the past two seasons.

Group 1: 1B, OF, DH
Group 2: 2B, 3B, SS
Group 3: C
Group 4: SP
Group 5: RP

The stat categories used for each of the five position groups are as follows:

2B/3B/SS: PA, AVG, OBP, HR, RBI, fielding percentage, total chances at designated position
C: PA, AVG, OBP, HR, RBI, fielding percentage, assists
SP: total games (total starts + 0.5 * total relief appearances), IP, wins, W-L %, ERA, strikeouts
RP: total games (total relief appearances + 2 * total starts), IP (weighted slightly less than other categories), wins + saves, IP/H ratio, K/BB, ERA

Varitek has played a lot of games the past two seasons, adding to his counting stats such as PA, HR, RBI, and assists. Bradley, on the other hand, missed considerable time in 2007, depressing his PA, HR, and RBI totals.

The system is far from perfect, yet it attempts to balance counting and rate stats over a two-year period to give credit for the quantity and quality of playing time. There is no attempt to adjust numbers for park factors, which means a player like Matt Holliday inexplicably ranked higher than Albert Pujols over the 2007-2008 seasons.

FWIW: Teixeira and Sabathia received the highest position and pitcher rankings, including non-free agents.

Thanks Rich. That helps clarify my confusion.