Which Free Agents Will Be Offered Arbitration?

As the clock ticks down toward tonight's free agent arbitration offer deadline at 11pm central time, we at MLBTR reminisce about all the good times we had deciphering the Elias ranking system.  

Things will be simpler in 2012, as traded players won't be eligible for draft pick compensation, arbitration offers will come much earlier, and there will be only one group of free agents subject to compensation.  Instead of players being designated as Type A based on lame statistics chosen by MLB and the players union decades ago, it'll just be a question of whether the former team offers a guaranteed one-year contract with a salary equal to the average salary of the 125-highest paid players from the prior season.  That seems to equal $12.4MM at present, but it'll surely rise each year.  The bottom line: a team has to be willing to risk a sizeable one-year commitment to have a shot at draft pick compensation.  Gone are the days of Scott Downs and Grant Balfour costing or providing a team draft picks.  Perhaps more significantly, there's no Type B equivalent.  In 2011 alone the Padres, Rays, and Blue Jays gained 10 picks between the first and second rounds as a result of losing middling free agents like Yorvit Torrealba, Brad Hawpe, and Kevin Gregg.

We still have Elias rankings to consider for this offseason, however.  We have a good idea of what will happen with the 20 current Type A free agents.  Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Octavio Dotel, Ramon Hernandez, and Darren Oliver will be treated as Type B players, and don't require arbitration offers for their teams to receive a supplemental draft pick as compensation.  This modification is a win for the Twins and Reds, who probably weren't going to offer arbitration to Capps and Cordero.  It's also, of course, a win for these players, who don't come with the draft pick cost attached.

Another change helps Type As Heath Bell, Michael Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Madson, Francisco Rodriguez, Josh Willingham, and their teams: these six players will not cost a draft pick for their new teams if they turn down arbitration offers, yet the former teams still receive two picks.  All these players are seeking multiyear deals, so all figure to receive and turn down arbitration offers, except for perhaps Rodriguez.  I have a feeling Scott Boras clients are a bit less open to handshake agreements to turn down arbitration, as the Rays couldn't pull that off with Carlos Pena last year.  With K-Rod earning $11.5MM in 2011, the Brewers still risk him accepting and taking a one-year deal for 2012 at a higher salary if they offer arbitration.  Still, if Boras feels there's three years, $30MM, and a closing job out there for Rodriguez, I imagine he'll still advise his client to turn down an arbitration offer.

As MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith noted yesterday, remaining Type A free agents Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson, David Ortiz, Roy Oswalt, Jose Reyes, and Jimmy Rollins are still under the old rules, while Takashi Saito and Carlos Beltran contractually cannot be offered arbitration.  Of the first seven, the Phillies may choose not to offer arbitration to Oswalt given his salary.  I think an arbitration offer for Ortiz from the Red Sox is likely, but less certain than the others.

We also have 32 Type B free agents for whom decisions are due tonight.  Those with a good chance of receiving an arbitration offer, in my opinion: Aramis Ramirez, Alex Gonzalez, Mark Buehrle, Jason Kubel, Frank Francisco, Bruce Chen, Edwin Jackson, Kerry Wood, Freddy Garcia, Jose Molina, and Shawn Camp.  There will probably be others, with the unpredictable element of players privately agreeing to decline, as we saw with Hawpe, Trevor Hoffman, and Javier Vazquez last year.


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20 Responses to Which Free Agents Will Be Offered Arbitration? Leave a Reply

  1. JacksTigers 4 years ago

    I could not be happier with how this turned out.

  2. jb226 4 years ago

    I was thinking about this a bit last night.  A lot of focus has been on how middling free agents won’t result in compensation (because who is going to offer them ~$12.4MM/yr?) and that is for good reason.  But isn’t the flip side of that coin that arbitration offers that used to be somewhat risky become gimmies? 

    It used to be that you had to offer arbitration, which would almost always result in a raise from whatever the base is.  Now you just have to offer $12.4MM, unless I’m missing something.  Anybody who is coming off a contract more than that amount and who hasn’t completely fallen apart would be downright insulted by that offer, guaranteeing both the compensation and that the player will move elsewhere (which is typically what a team wants when they offer arb under the current system).  Use Roy Oswalt as an example.  Tim thinks the Phillies would be wary of offering him arbitration, and with good reason.  Now imagine the new rules were in effect; is there much chance they wouldn’t go “here’s $12.4MM, lulz” and watch him walk?  Same with people like Buerhle.  They already make more and there’s no reason to believe they wil take a pay cut, so it’s basically automatic.

    I don’t think this is a big deal by any means, I just don’t believe I have seen it mentioned yet.

    • Mike Lynch 4 years ago

      In your example Oswalt will probably get a pay cut.  If the 12.4M option was offered to Oswalt this year he would probably end up taking it.  It would be “show you I’m healthy” option to get another multiyear deal.

      • jb raises a great point.  Oswalt is a good example.  I am curious though if there is a “maximum cut” salary rule in there.

      • jb raises a great point.  Oswalt is a good example.  I am curious though if there is a “maximum cut” salary rule in there.

      • Why are some players still under the old rules? I thought these changes were across the board…

        • Mike Lynch 4 years ago

          Double D, this year’s offseason is based on the last CBA not the new CBA agreement.  This offseason still has the Type A/Type B FA which you have offer arbitration to in order to get compensation (Other than the Type A’s that were re-classified as Type B’s).

          The qualifying offer to receive compensation goes into effect next offseason.

          • thanks, but it’s still odd they they reclassified some relievers, such as Madson, which screws the Phils.  Why bother doing that?  Change everything or nothing this year.

          • Steve_in_MA 4 years ago

            Its to protect teams that have made deals in reliance of the old rules.  The split is intended to make sure that everyone gets what they bargained for during this offseason, and the new rules get fully implemented afterward.  They’re trying for a smooth transition.

          • Mike Lynch 4 years ago

            Also it really doesn’t screw the Phil’s and may actually help them as they will still get a 1st round pick and a comp pick when a team signs Madson, it is just the team that signs him doesn’t have to give up their 1st round draft pick.

            I think that they really wanted to put all of the Type A’s in Madson’s category put the Phillies would’ve gone ballistic if they were the only team to lose their 1st rounder since they signed Papelbon prior to the CBA changes.  As a compromise the left the top tier type A’s alone.

        • Mike Lynch 4 years ago

          Double D, this year’s offseason is based on the last CBA not the new CBA agreement.  This offseason still has the Type A/Type B FA which you have offer arbitration to in order to get compensation (Other than the Type A’s that were re-classified as Type B’s).

          The qualifying offer to receive compensation goes into effect next offseason.

  3. 14 Rocks 4 years ago

    The Braves will not offer Alex Gonzalez arbitration.  They are too afraid that he would accept it.

    • Maybe, but given the shortstop market right now, they might actually be able to trade him, too.  Frankly, having him as a fall-back option would not be the worst thing in the world:  better to play from a hand of strength than not.

      So yes, I bet arb is offered to Seabass (and I also bet he declines – he knows what Barmes just got, for instance).

      MY QUESTION:  What’s the deadline on acceptance of these arbitration offers made to your own free agents?

      • 14 Rocks 4 years ago

        It was just reported by the AJC that the Braves will not offer Gonzalez arbitration.  No more pouty face flailing away at the plate next year.  Yippppeeeee!!

      • Mike Lynch 4 years ago

        Alan, the players have until Dec. 7 to accept or decline the arbitration offers

    • Maybe, but given the shortstop market right now, they might actually be able to trade him, too.  Frankly, having him as a fall-back option would not be the worst thing in the world:  better to play from a hand of strength than not.

      So yes, I bet arb is offered to Seabass (and I also bet he declines – he knows what Barmes just got, for instance).

      MY QUESTION:  What’s the deadline on acceptance of these arbitration offers made to your own free agents?

  4. Steve_in_MA 4 years ago

    I think its an absolute given that the BoSox will offer Ortiz arbitration, since they’ve already made him a contract offer.  What is there to lose if we are willing to have him back?  If he declines and walks, we get two compensatory picks.  If he accepts, we either work out a one-year deal (maybe with an option), or go to arbitration, where he gets a one-year deal.

  5. Steve_in_MA 4 years ago

    I think its an absolute given that the BoSox will offer Ortiz arbitration, since they’ve already made him a contract offer.  What is there to lose if we are willing to have him back?  If he declines and walks, we get two compensatory picks.  If he accepts, we either work out a one-year deal (maybe with an option), or go to arbitration, where he gets a one-year deal.

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