With yesterday’s deadline to offer free agents arbitration, the free agent landscape takes an interesting turn. Two of the Tigers’ potential targets, Troy Glaus and Steve Finley were not offered arbitration by their respective clubs. Conversely, 5 other players the Tigers have been linked with were offered arbitration. Derek Lowe, Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, Edgar Renteria, and Adrian Beltre were all offered arbitration by their former clubs.
So why is this arbitration thing significant? If a player has more than 6 years of major league service, and aren’t under a long term contract, they can declare for free agency. The club then has essentially 3 options, sign a player to a contract, offer the player the opportunity for salary arbitration, or decline to offer the player arbitration.
Signing a player to a contract is pretty obvious, they sign a player to a contract and the player is no longer a free agent.
If they offer a player arbitration, the player then has the option to accept or decline the arbitraiton (this year’s deadline for players to make a decision is Dec. 19). In arbitration, both the player and club submit terms for a one year contract, and the case is then schedule to be heard by an arbitrator, who will decide the player’s salary. In the meantime, both sides can continue to negotiate. Often times even after agreeing to arbitration, an agreement is reached prior to the hearing. The advantage for the club of offering arbitration is that depending on how good the player is, if they sign with another team, the original team get compensatory draft picks. The risk is that the player will accept the opportunity for arbitration, and the team could be stuck paying the player more than they wanted to, plus not have any draft picks.
The team’s third option, not offering arbitration, essentially severs the original clubs relationship with the player. They can’t negotiate with the player until May 1 of the following year. Also the former team receives no draft pick compensation when the player sings elsewhere.
For the Tigers, it means some players become a little more attractive and a little more available (Glaus and Finley) because signing them would require no draft pick compensation, and the former teams are no longer in the running to sign them. On the other hand, a couple other targets become harder to sign, and have a higher cost. With Pavano and Beltre, I’m not worried about the loss of picks. However Lowe, who isn’t that attractive a catch anyways, becomes even less desirable.
The Tigers themselves declined to offer arbitration to their two free agents, Al Levine and Esteban Yan. Yan had some value at some times, and a one year deal wouldn’t have been all bad, but it appears that Yan was seeking multiple years. Levine pitched horribly for the bulk of the year, but he was actually adequate at the end. However, the Tigers aren’t really losing anything here.
Brad Radke, another potential target, is now off the market. He signed a two year $18 million (terms are speculated) deal with the Twins. The Twins also offered Corey Koskie arbitration. Twinsgeek is excited about both moves because it looks like the Twins historically tight budget might expand a little bit this year.
As for the Steve Finley rumors of a 2 year , $16 million contract? I’ll delve into that in another post. I’ve written enough here already.