Tomorrow is the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to Type A and B free agents. Without an arbitration offer, there will be no draft-pick compensation if those free agents sign elsewhere.
Of course, an arbitration offer comes with one obvious risk: The player might actually accept.
The Yankees have six qualifying free agents, which is more than most teams.
Berkman doesn’t want to be a part-time player, which suggests he would turn down an arbitration offer. That said, his hometown Astros have already said they don’t plan to pursue Berkman. Given that sort of uncertainty — there’s no obvious fit for Berkman right now — he could very well decide to take the arbitration money, hope for a bounce-back year with a good team, then try to hit the open market after 2011. It’s a risk in terms of both dollars and roster space. The Yankees don’t have room for a DH-only hitter like Berkman. Offer arbitration? No.
This is probably a pointless discussion because I don’t think either side would expect these negotiations to actually reach an arbitration hearing. That said, taking Jeter to arbitration wouldn’t be a terrible situation for the Yankees. Granted, it would cost big-time money, but a one-year deal wouldn’t be too bad. Offer arbitration? Sure. But I have to think these two sides can work something out before it gets to that point.
Pettitte has said he won’t sign with anyone but the Yankees, which means no draft pick compensation anyway. Plus, agreeing to arbitration takes too much control out of the Yankees hands. I don’t see what there is to gain. Offer arbitration? No.
Similar to Jeter, this is probably a pointless discussion because the the Yankees and Rivera are likely to work something out before a hearing. Also similar to Jeter, a one-year deal with Rivera isn’t a terrible situation for the Yankees. They’d have to pay quite a bit, but their long-term risk would be minimized. Offer arbitration? As long as the Yankees are willing to pay big for one year, I don’t see why not. But I don’t think it matters.
Of these six candidates, Vazquez is the big risk-reward decision. Vazquez seems to be generating legitimate interest on the free agent market, and there’s little doubt he would like to get out of New York. Those two factors suggest he might decline arbitration and net the Yankees a draft pick. On the other hand, Vazquez could see arbitration as a chance to make considerable money for one year, during which he could reassert himself as a viable big league starter. To me, that risk is both very real and very significant. Don’t make the offer unless you’re OK with actually going to arbitration. I don’t think the Yankees want to do that with Vazquez. Offer arbitration? No.
I think the Yankees would love to have Wood back in the eighth inning, but they chose not to pick up his $11-million option for 2011. That tells me they don’t think Wood is worth what he’ll surely make in arbitration. He’s a good pitcher and a good fit, but given the Yankees offseason needs, I’m not sure it’s a practical option. Offer arbitration? No.