Clubs go to bat at arbitration deadline
Players offered will have a week to accept or decline
For some teams, Tuesday consisted of easy decisions -- formalities, if you will.
For others, like the Yankees and their delicate negotiations with Derek Jeter, the deadline to offer salary arbitration to ranked free agents offered up a bit of a quandary.
In the end, the Yankees decided against tendering Jeter -- a Type A free agent -- arbitration, even though doing so would've put a dent in his leverage to yield the lucrative contract he seeks from his home club, and even though New York would've only been committed to him for one season if Jeter had shocked everyone by accepting.
Fact is, Jeter made $21 million in 2010, and it was the Yankees' fear that if an arbitrator would've decided his salary for next season, that number could've reached the $25 million range.
That has been the biggest storyline thus far on Tuesday -- a day that has otherwise been rather business as usual on the arbitration front.
Teams with free agents who are likely to yield big contracts will usually offer them arbitration, knowing full well the player will decline, so that it can get compensatory Draft picks if he signs elsewhere.
Such was the case for several Type A free agents, including catcher Victor Martinez -- who has reportedly agreed to a four-year, $50 million deal with the Tigers -- third baseman Adrian Beltre, outfielder Jayson Werth, first baseman Paul Konerko and power hitter Adam Dunn. And since reliever Joaquin Benoit and catcher John Buck -- both Type B free agents -- signed deals elsewhere prior to the deadline, they'll yield compensatory Draft picks for the Rays and Blue Jays, respectively.
Two other Type A free agents -- Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee -- were offered arbitration by the Rays and Rangers, respectively.
Then there are those Type A and B free agents -- ranked via the Elias Sports Bureau's latest comparative analysis of all Major Leaguers -- who would probably garner higher 2011 salaries via arbitration than the open market, and who teams don't want to risk potentially having in the books for 2011. In those instances, offering arbitration is a gamble.
Along with Jeter, arbitration has been declined so far to outfielders Magglio Ordonez (Type A) and Johnny Damon (B), and catcher Gerald Laird (B) by the Tigers; third baseman Mike Lowell (B) and catcher Jason Varitek (B) by the Red Sox; outfielder Manny Ramirez (A), catcher A.J. Pierzynski (A) and reliever J.J. Putz (B) by the White Sox; first baseman Derrek Lee (A) by the Braves; and reliever Chad Durbin (B) by the Phillies.
Lance Berkman and Hideki Matsui, two sluggers essentially relegated to designated-hitter duties at their advanced ages, were not offered arbitration by the Yankees and Angels, respectively.
The deadline to offer arbitration is 11:59 p.m. ET, and those offered will then have a week to accept or decline.
If a Type A free agent is offered arbitration and declines -- the likely scenario -- his former team gets a first- or second-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft and a sandwich pick. For Type B free agents, clubs get just a sandwich pick.
Last year, 19 ranked free agents were offered arbitration, and only these three accepted: Carl Pavano (Twins), Rafael Betancourt (Rockies) and Rafael Soriano (Braves). In 2008, only two out of 24 accepted. And in '07, it was just three out of 17.
Twenty-one teams entered Tuesday with ranked free agents, making up a list of 64 players. Twenty-six were Type A and 38 were Type B.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Gonzo and 'The Show'. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.