Manny, Blake, Lowe offered arbitration
Dodgers will get Draft picks if players sign with other clubs
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers on Monday offered salary arbitration to three of their 14 free agents: outfielder Manny Ramirez, pitcher Derek Lowe and infielder Casey Blake.
Ramirez and Lowe are the only two of the 14 that are Type A free agents. Blake is one of five Dodgers that are Type B free agents. Clubs have until 9 p.m. PT Monday to offer arbitration, which entitles the club to receive Draft-pick compensation for the loss of ranked free agents.
In the cases of Ramirez and Lowe, the Dodgers would receive a first-round pick from the signing team if that team selects in the second half of the first round of the June Draft, or a second-round pick from the signing team if that team selects in the first half of the first round, plus a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds in either case.
General manager Ned Colletii said he has not talked to agent Scott Boras about Ramirez or Lowe since the General Managers Meetings a month ago. In the interim, the Dodgers made, and withdrew, an offer to Ramirez for two years plus an option worth, the package worth either $45 million or $60 million. No offer has been made to Lowe, who has not shown a desire to return to the club.
In the case of Blake, the Dodgers would receive a sandwich pick from the signing team. They did not offer arbitration to their four remaining Type B free agents -- Joe Beimel, Jeff Kent, Greg Maddux and Brad Penny -- who now are unrestricted free agents. Colletti said he has been in touch recently with Blake's agent, Jim McDowell, who is seeking a three-year deal. The Dodgers would prefer no more than two years. Blake is also being pursued by Minnesota and Cleveland, two of his former clubs.
If any of the three players accepts the arbitration offer by Sunday, he immediately is considered signed to a one-year Dodgers contract, with the salary to be determined through negotiations or the arbitration process. If he rejects the offer, he remains in the free-agent pool with the compensation picks in effect.
Rankings are based on a two-year statistical formula for each position group. A Type A player ranks in the top 20 percent at his position, a Type B player ranks in the top 40 percent but not in the top 20 percent.
The key factor that clubs face in offering arbitration isn't the compensation they receive if the player leaves, but the risk involved if the player accepts. For these three players, the Dodgers would welcome any back on a one-year contract.
"You go into it knowing there's a chance the player will accept, with the mindset that one, two, three will say, 'You know what? I'll come back on a one-year deal,' " Colletti said. "We'd be happy to have any of them back for one year."
Missing significant Major League playing time greatly impacts a player's ranking, as in the cases of shortstop Rafael Furcal and reliever Chan Ho Park, two of the club's seven non-ranking free agents for which compensation does not apply. The others are Nomar Garciaparra, Mark Sweeney, Jason Johnson, Gary Bennett and Pablo Ozuna.
Colletti said he has had regular dialogue with Furcal's representatives. They have indicated that the shortstop has a four-year offer on the table but have also said he's not likely to sign until after next week's Winter Meetings. The Dodgers are willing to guarantee only two years to Furcal, who played barely one month this year and is coming off back surgery. Despite the agent rhetoric, Colletti said he remains hopeful that Furcal will return.
Nonetheless, he said there are other options at shortstop, including internally, such as Chin-lung Hu.
"If you have enough offense around the club, you can play defense there," he said of the position. "Hu's certainly in the mix depending on what we go forward with. We know he can play big league defense there."
Monday night's deadline typically signals the effectual start of the free-agent season, as most clubs are reluctant to sign another team's free agent without knowing whether it would be required to forfeit Draft picks as compensation. As of Monday, only two of 171 current free agents had changed clubs.
Colletti said he's been given no indication from Kent that he will continue playing. Garciaparra, Colletti was told by agent Arn Tellem, is still considering whether he will keep playing.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.