In his latest blog post (ESPN Insider required), Buster Olney discusses what he refers to as baseball's "next great economic disparity," referring to the large number of players, young and old, who stand to make more money through arbitration than they would on the free agent market. One executive referred to the arbitration process as "outdated."
Multiple general managers feel that there will be dozens of non-tendered players over the course of the next 41 days. In total, Olney and some baseball executives counted 93 "solid" non-tender candidates as they examined each team's roster (check out Tim's list here). If the final number comes close to that, nearly 300 players will be looking for a new team this offseason, vastly deflating the asking price for most free agents.
Olney names two non-tender candidates in detail, in J.J. Hardy and Bobby Jenks:
- Hardy hit just .229 with 11 home runs this season after posting home run totals of 26 and 24 the past two seasons. He's also due a raise on his $4.65MM salary, and the Brewers have Alcides Escobar waiting in the wings. Olney writes that the Red Sox inquired about Hardy at the deadline, but balked when the Brewers asked for excellent prospects in return. Olney wonders if this is a sign of things to come, and if no market for Hardy develops, would the Brewers be better off non-tendering the former All-Star?
- Jenks posted a mediocre line this season, while making $5.6MM. Olney speculates that he could receive as much as $7.5MM through arbitration. Roughly a dozen closers could be available this winter, making Jenks and his disappointing 2009 a tough sell at that price tag. Should the White Sox invest that much in him, or simply look for a cheaper alternative?
Olney feels that some big market teams could reel in non-tender candidates from small market teams for lower level prospects and wait to see if they pan out over the remainder of their time under team control. Additionally, he says that teams such as the Twins will be able to take fliers on non-tendered players and receive tremendous value.
What other non-tender candidates do you see emerging this offseason, and where might they land? Share your thoughts in the comments section.