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Arbir Day
2006-12-01 11:49
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Major League Baseball's new Basic Agreement, now in effect, mercifully stripped a lot of red tape out of the free agent process. Arbitration offers are still a part of the process, however, and midnight tonight is the deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to their declared free agents. This deadline is far less significant than it used to be, however, since players not offered arbitration will still be able to resign with their former teams (under the previous Agreement they couldn't do so until May 1 of the following season).

There are really just two remaining factors for teams to consider when deciding whether or not to offer arbitration. The first is that teams are only eligible to receive compensation for departed free agents to whom they did offer arbitration. Of course, with the elimination of compensation for Type C free agents and the reclassification of Type A and Type B players to the top 40 percent of the field (was the top 50 percent), this applies to a much smaller group of players. For example, the only Yankee free agent who falls within that top 40 percent is Ron Villone, who is a Type B (Mike Mussina was a Type A, but having resigned, that's moot). For those players, however, the old catch remains. If you offer a player arbitration in the hope that he'll sign with another team and bring you a compensation draft pick, you run the risk of that player accepting salary arbitration, which guarantees him a contract with your team for the following season.

Take the case of Villone, an undistinguished aging middle reliever who pitched way over his head for the first half of 2006 before bottoming out so severely that he ended up with an ERA below his already below league average career mark (how Elias subsequently placed him in the top 40 percent of all eligible free agents remains a mystery to me, though I believe playing time is a factor, and Villone did pitch in 70 games last year). Recent rumors have had Villone close to a contract with the Cleveland Indians, which suggest the Yankees may want to offer him arbitration in order to land a supplemental round pick in next June's amateur draft. Then again, Villone is also a New Jersey native who grew up a Yankee fan and is thus a prime candidate to accept the Yankees' arbitration offer, thus requiring them to pay for his age-37 season. In the David Parrish and Drew Henson era, the risk of Villone accepting arbitration wouldn't be worth the shot at a draft pick, but now that the Yankees are making the most of their draft picks, the shot at an extra pick is awfully tempting.

According to Peter Abraham, there are a few free agent deals on the table that are just waiting for tonight's deadline to pass in order to find out if compensation will be part of the cost. Those deals must be for Type A players, as the picks given in compensation for Type B free agents are supplemental round picks only, meaning they are not picks taken away from the signing team, but additional picks added to the draft specifically for compensation purposes. Remarkably, nine Type A free agents have already been signed, guaranteeing that their old teams will offer arbitration in order to receive that compensatory pick.

Comments
2006-12-01 13:16:25
1.   Maniakes
Under the old CBA, at least, teams could release an arbirtated player before March 14 for 30 days of salary, or during spring training for 45 days of salary.
2006-12-01 15:13:56
2.   jakewoods
its guaranteed they'll offer villone arbirtration

because if he takes it its a one yr committment for about 4 mill. not bad

and if he signs elsewhere its a free first rounder/sandwich pick

a no lose

2006-12-01 16:46:18
3.   mikeplugh
Hey peeps.

I wanted to continue a line of thinking from the last thread, and from my piece over at COH about Zuleta. I say SIGN HIM NOW!

The more I think about it, after sleeping on all of it last night, you could get him at 3 years, 6 million and he'd probably be thrilled. He couldn't get more than a one year, one million dollar deal from cheap-ass SoftBank. What kind of production can we expect. I wrote this at COH:

162 Games
570 ABs
157 Hits
35 Doubles
28 Home Runs
60 Walks
.275/.360/.484 for an .844 OPS

Someone asked how he could be expected to do that in the Majors, when Matsui hasn't been able to consistently top 25 homers. Someone else postulated that he'd lose half his homers and drop to 15 or so. It's not realistic, and here's why.

Zuleta has hit in about 4500 at bats between A, AA, AAA, and Japan at virtually the same clip. Think of it this way, a guy who hits .290/.360.550 over 4 levels of baseball, consistently, will likely do it again when he reaches the Majors. It's one of Bill James' most important findings.

Also, he hit 9 home runs in 174 MLB at bats for the Cubs. Multiply the at bats by 3 and you get a full season of 522, and 27 home runs. He hit at that rate in the minors, and he hit at that rate in the Majors in his small sample size. Sign him, and watch the competition weep.

2006-12-01 16:56:36
4.   OldYanksFan
Glavine, Mets reach 1-year, $10.5 million deal
2006-12-01 16:59:33
5.   Chyll Will
3 That reminds me of Tino. How do they compare?

Also, someone asked about his defense. The last thing the Yanks need is another shaky scoop at first. I wouldn't mind if Zuleta turned out to be a 1B version of Scott Brosius, just as long as he can dig it out the dirt like a pro. Giambi can just scare the ball out the park, he doesn't need to wear a mitt in 2007 as long as we have a guy who can cover the base like nobody's business. So, how is he? (pleasedon'tsayadequate, pleasedon'tsayadequate...)

2006-12-01 17:06:17
6.   mikeplugh
5 He's fair at 1st. He'd probably be league average in the Majors. He's a good athlete for a firstbaseman, but nothing special. He'd hold the fort.
2006-12-01 17:07:01
7.   mikeplugh
I didn't say adeq.....
2006-12-01 17:27:55
8.   Zack
Yanks offered Ronnie V. arbitration; I think he'll accept. that gives Joe one more arm to totally destroy. Not a great pitcher, but not much else out there really...
2006-12-01 19:25:08
9.   OldYanksFan
ESPN Recreates 1977 Yankees
"The Bronx Is Burning" is an eight-hour miniseries that will air next July about the 1977 New York Yankees.

http://tinyurl.com/yde8rp

2006-12-01 19:29:42
10.   Cliff Corcoran
9 Alex wrote about that recently. He highly recommends the book the series is based on. I have it, but haven't gotten a chance to read it yet, though I look forward to doing so.
2006-12-01 20:15:58
11.   BklynBmr
mlb.com reports Lilly received an offer (4 year deal) from the Cubs:

http://tinyurl.com/yzwyx4

Lilly's agent Larry O'Brien quoted:

"I just don't know," O'Brien said. "With what the Yankees have done -- now they've got the rights to that left-handed Japanese kid -- they might not be in the mix anymore."

-----

That's OK by me ;-)

2006-12-01 23:11:33
12.   jakewoods
hey mike p

can zuleta play any defense or is he giambi jr?

i know he can rake but can he field?

2006-12-02 04:24:52
13.   mikeplugh
He is about league average, I'd say. He's no Tino Martinez, but he's not Ortiz or Giambi by any stretch of the imagination. They practice too much in Japan for him to be such a bumbling fielder. He plays 1B everyday rather than DH, so you know he can field a bit. There are a million slick gloves in Japan, so you'd replace him with one of those guys if he really couldn't field.

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