What We Learned: This Week’s Arbitration Offers

More than half of ranked free agents received offers of arbitration from their teams this week. Clubs offered 35 ranked free agents arbitration (up from 23 last year). Here's what we learned from the flurry of arbitration offers.

The Facts

  • If you haven't done so already, click here for an explanation of how free agent compensation works and click here to check out our arbitration offer tracker.
  • Teams offered 14 of 27 Type A free agents arbitration (52%)
  • Teams offered 21 of 38 Type B free agents arbitration (55%).
  • In total, teams offered 35 of 65 ranked free agents arb (54%).

What This Says About The Market

  • Teams are valuing draft picks highly.
  • Why the extra emphasis on the draft? It's always been a cheap way for teams to stock their systems with talent, but this year is different. The 2011 draft class is strong, so having multiple high picks is a plus. 
  • Since the collective bargaining agreement expires after 2011, there is a chance that there will be spending restrictions for the 2012 draft. That could make next year a big one for teams willing to spend over-slot on top early picks.
  • Teams expect each other to spend aggressively. Players are more likely to turn down arbitration if they get multi-year offers on the open market. John Buck and Joaquin Benoit and others have signed deals that may encourage players to turn down arbitration in search of multi-year contracts.

What To Expect In 2010 And 2011

  • The supplementary first round lasted 18 selections in 2010 and 17 selections in 2009, but the 2011 supplementary round figures to be considerably longer. Some players will accept offers of arbitration and others may sign minor league deals, so there's no way it will last 35 picks. Still, it wouldn't be surprising to see the supplementary round last 25 selections next year.
  • MLB attempted to speed the offseason up, but the recent rush of offers may work against the league's goal. Teams will likely be reluctant to hand over a top pick for Grant Balfour, Frank Francisco or Jason Frasor, but once clubs sign free agents with higher Elias rankings, those relievers will cost a second rounder at most. Those three Type A right-handers will draw interest, but it may take a while for them to sign.

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