The deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents was 12:00 P.M. Eastern Time yesterday. You can read all about free agent compensation here, see how the Elias ranking work here, and see those rankings here. Thanks to MLB Trade Rumors for all of these links. Below are players offered and not offered arbitration that I deemed questionable. Ignore the bolded posts; I can’t find a way to get rid of the.
- D’Backs don’t offer arb. to Adam Dunn. This was the dumbest decision of them all. Not to offer Dunn arbitration for fear he would accept is just plain sily. There would have been a 98% chance that he declines to sign for multiple years elsewhere, netting the D’Backs two picks. Even if for some reason he did accept the offer of arbitration, he would be a great trade chip. Dunn on a 1 year, 15 million dollar deal would bring back a lot in return. This makes zero sense to me and proves how cheap the D’Backs are.
- Phillies don’t offer arb. to Pat Burrell. It’s like the same thing as with Dunn. These guys are great players; they deserve an offer of arbitration. I know that the Phils don’t have much money to spend, but Burrell on a cheap 1 year deal would be a great piece to their team. They could either let Jamie Moyer go and keep Burrell, or even if they really wanted to not be stuck with Burrell, they could have just traded him. Like Dunn, he would make a lot of sense for a lot of teams for a year. This one does’t make much sense either.
- Yankees don’t offer arb. to Bobby Abreu. I find this surprising, because I know for a fact that Abreu would’ve declined and signed elsewhere on a multi-year contract. There was no way he was coming back to New York, and even if he did, he would be solid trade chip. I’m not understanding their logic on this one.
- Cubs don’t offer arb. to Kerry Wood. This was just flat out dumb. First of all, what were the chance that Wood would actually accept an offer of arbitration? I’d say around 20%. We all know that he deeply wants to stay with the Cubs, but I doubt he would sacrifice a possible 15-20 million to stick in Chicago. If Woody did accept, they could always just trade him. His salary would be moveable, and they could even get a decent prospect back. To me, this was just utter stupidness.
- Phillies don’t offer arb. to Jamie Moyer. I have no idea why Moyer didn’t get an offer. Wouldn’t the Phils like Jamie back on a 1 year deal at market price? Isn’t that what they are trying to get done this offseason; resign Moyer. I know that he stood a good chance of accepting, but I don’t think that would be a bad thing. At least you know you can get a pick if he does leave for whatever reason. Ruben Amaro has not had a very good start to his general managing career if you ask me.
- Astros don’t offer arb. to Randy Wolf. Remember when the Astros were supposedly the frontrunners for Ben Sheets? Now they can’t even afford Randy Wolf on a 1 year deal. I didn’t know that their payroll was this tight. Like a lot of other players on this list, he would have been very easy to trade had he accepted. Also, wasn’t this the reason for trading for Wolf, so that they could get a sandwich pick for some AAAA reliever? I think that trade is looking even worse now because the ‘Stros had to know at the time of the trade that they couldn’t afford to offer arb. to Wolf or to resign him. The Astros are one of the worst run franchises in all of baseball.
- Dodgers don’t offer arb. to Joe Beimel. This guy made only 2 million last year, and stands a great chance at nabbing at least a two year deal on the open market. I don’t see why the Dodgers wouldn’t offer to him. Beilmel would be a bargain on a 1 year deal, so he is a tradeable asset if the Dodgers truly didn’t want him.
- Cardinals don’t offer arb. to Braden Looper. He would be a great bargain on a one year deal, and is said to be looking for 3 years, making it likely he declines. Looper would’ve provided great depth to their rotation if they wanted him. Even if the Cards didn’t want him, he would be very easy to trade. This was a dumb decision and it will cost the Cards a sandwich pick.
- Cardinals don’t offer arb. to Russ Springer. I though they wanted him back. A 1 year deal at market value would be a good signing for them. I know that they knew he would accept, but that’s a good thing. Well, at least I think so.
- Mets don’t offer arb. to Luis Ayala. I know he was completely terrible last year, but he was solid in his stint with the Mets and has had a great track record his entire career. (except for last year, of course) He made only 1.7 million last year, and would be a solid signing for a year at about 2.5 million. If he declined, they would have gotten a draft pick for him.
As you can see there were a lot of teams that I felt made a mistake by not offering a key player arbitration. It looks like the economy is hurting everyone.
I haven’t done a player market in a while. Bobby Abreu seems like a pretty popular name so far. Let’s take a look at where he might end up.
Cubs (frontrunners) Now that Ryan Dempster is resigned and Kerry Wood won’t be back, the remainder of the Cubs’ money will go toward a left handed bat for right field. The Cubs are in a financial predicament, however. 130 million is already tied up in contracts, and arbitration raises could push them another 5 million or so. If it’s true that payroll won’t go past 140 million, then salary must be moved in order to aquire Abreu. Marquis could be traded. I think they’ll do that to clear at least 7 million, and then with the 12 million made available, they’ll sign Abreu. But that’s just my prediction.
Braves (frontrunners) If they miss out on other outfield possibilities, Abreu could make a lot of sense. It would give them the flexibility of demoting or trading Jeff Francoeur without having to put someone in right field that shouldn’t be there. He had very good stats last year, and would be an all around a great aquisition for any team to make.
Reds (frontrunners) He could solve their left field problems. Great American Ballpark should attract Abreu, and the Reds could use a high OBP player to replace Adam Dunn. If they can get a few big years from various young players, this team could compete for the Wild Card and maybe even the NL Central.
Mets (possible) The Mets have been saying all along that they view pitching as their offseason priorty. They would still be upgrading their pitching by signing Abreu, though. For example: The Mets trade Ryan Church to the Rays for Edwin Jackson, sign Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes, and sign Bobby Abreu. That all can fit into their payroll, and they improve the bullpen and offense while keeping the rotation the same. Abreu would take over in right field, replacing Ryan Church. I think this idea could work.
Rays (dark horse) I know that they’re running low on money, but if they want to stretch the payroll a tad, Bobby Abreu could make sense. He is a middle of the order bat that plays right field; Abreu would fill all of their holes in just one aquisition. This one is a dark horse only because of the possible salary it would take to lock him up.
The Cubs have resigned starting pitcher Ryan Dempster for 4 years and 52 million. Sorry I didn’t post about it earlier; I was busy yesterday. Solid move for the Cubs. This is about the amount I figured he would get. Demp getting 14, 15, 16, 17 million per year would be kind of stupid since he had only one great year. Still, the 52 million is only 12 million more than what Kyle Lohse got, even though Dempster has much more upside. The Cardinals expect Lohse to be a guy with an ERA around 4.00 every year. Dempster could do what he did last year, or worst case scenerio he is a guy with an ERA in the 3.75 to 4.00 range. This was overall just a good move for the Cubs as they bring back a clubhouse leader, and a big part of their team for a fair if not below market price. Now that his contract is in the books, the Cubs will focus only on a right fielder. Bobby Abreu remains the most likely target, but infielders Rafael Furcal and Brian Roberts remain possibilities. In these cases Mark DeRosa would move to right field and Ryan Theriot might move to second base. Neither aquisition seems likely, though, because the Cubs are running short on money and prospects. If Abreu cannot be signed, Raul Ibanez could become the backup plan. They would have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of defense, though. I think that in the end, Abreu will be with the Cubs and they will be even better than they were in 2008. Hopefully, next year is their year.
The Braves have 45 million to spend in an attempt to fix the team that won only a mere 72 games last year. Their main needs: starting pitching and outfield help. Earlier, I wrote that the Braves are out of the Jake Peavy market. Since that is over, I expect them to look toward free agency to fill their holes. They won’t go after CC Sabathia, but Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster, and AJ Burnett are good options. Bigger market teams like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, and Cubs will be in on these guys, but the Braves can spend more than all of them. (if the Yankees sign Sabathia first) They might even decide to pursue two of the three. The goal here seems to be respectable in ’09, but truly competing for a world series in ’10. Both Burnett and Lowe will probably get deals in the 4 year, 64 million range. Burnett already has an offer; the Blue Jays want him back for 4 years, 54 million. That won’t get it done. Dempster seems likely to stick with the Cubs, but then again I’m not sure if they’ll go all in. If the Braves offered 64 million, they’d probably get him. The Cubs don’t feel they have to overpay because they don’t have as big of a need at starting pitcher. In the end, I think Dempster gets a bigger offer but accepts the Cubs’ cheaper one. The Yankees could go crazy and offer Burnett up to 5 years, 80 million. They would definatly get him for that amount. Lowe is more likely, because the Yanks will be out of the bidding by then. The Red Sox might be tough to compete against because they are Lowe’s prefered destination. Hopefully for the Braves sake, the Red Sox don’t get involved. If the Mets sign Francisco Rodriguez, they won’t be able to offer the amount other teams could. They aren’t that big of a factor. The Braves could just pursue a cheaper free agent if they can’t get two top-of-the-rotation starters. Jon Garland is an option; so is Oliver Perez.
If the Braves don’t add two starters, they could turn to outfield help. Pat Burrell is an option if they can afford him. Raul Ibanez might make more sense. If they really want to spend, Adam Dunn is possible. Bobby Abreu might be looked into. Through trade, Jermane Dye and Magglio Ordonez are options if they are avialable. Overall, it looks like the Braves will be a solid team next year, but 2010 is the time where they will be really good because their prospects will be in the majors, and Tim Hudson would be back from injury.
The Cubs have recently traded for former Marlin Kevin Gregg. Because of the move, Kerry Wood will not be back. Jose Ceda will be the prospect heading over to the Fish. I like this deal for both teams. The Marlins clear some more salary while getting a solid bullpen prospect in Ceda. They’re probably already done and free agency hasn’t even started yet. No more salary would have to be moved and all their young players have opening now. Overall, a solid deal for the Marlins.
I think it was a smart trade for the Cubs, but as a fan I am very upset that Woody won’t be back; he was one of my favorite players. It was a good idea, though, mainly because they needed to clear salary. There was no way that the Cubs were going to be able to afford Ryan Dempster, Wood, and Bobby Abreu. Gregg can come in for a cheap 4 million and be a solid set-up man for Carlos Marmol. So they will have about 16 million to spend on Dempster and Abreu while filling the void that Kerry Wood left in the bullpen. I feel very bad for Kerry. He took so many discounts to stay with the team and would have this time, also. But he doesn’t get the same loyalty back. Poor Wood.
Now that he won’t be back with the Cubs, he’ll be going to a different team this offseason. With so many good options suddenly out there at closer like Francisco Rodriguez, Brian Fuentes, Trevor Hoffman, and now Wood there probably won’t be a huge market for Kerry. The Mets, Cardinals, Indians, Tigers, Brewers are all in need of a closer. I think that the Rangers could enter the picture for Wood, however. He is from Texas and I don’t think the Rangers are nor should they be sold on CJ Wilson. They seem like the best fit to me.
So the Cubs replace Wood with Gregg, the Marlins clear more salary, and Wood could go to any team, but I like him with the Rangers.
It has been stated that the Cubs would like to add another left-handed bat to their lineup. There are several positions I could see this bat coming from if they aren’t afraid to bench Kosuke Fukudome or move him to center field. First of all, there are the never dying Brian Roberts rumors. I don’t think they’ll have enough to get him without Sean Gallagher, whom got traded to the A’s in the Rich Harden deal. Maybe Sean Marshall, Donald Veal, Jose Ceda, Ronny Cedeno, and Mike Fontenot could do the trick. I wouldn’t do that if I was the Cubs or the Oriols, though. They could pursue Rafeal Furcal, just like they did back in 2006. Then move Ryan Theriot to second base, Mark DeRosa to right, and Kosuke Fukudome to center. If that doesn’t work, then go after Bobby Abreu. He brings a solid OBP to the Cubs. If they strike-out on him, they could try to maneuver a trade for Brian Giles. Ronny Cedeno and Jose Ceda could interest the Padres, who once had Ceda on their team. Milton Bradley could be signed if they want to spend some serious dough. If they’re not horrified about the idea of Raul Ibanez’s defense in right field, (which I am) then why not go after him? I don’t really like any of these ideas, because it would just keep the payroll going up, up, up. I’d rather have them lock up Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood, sign a middle reliever, move Jeff Samardzija to the rotation, and trade Jason Marquis. Also, give the center field job to Felix Pie and platoon Fukudome with Reed Johnson. Rich Harden could be signed to a long term deal as well. I think people are making too big of a deal out of three October games.
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