Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I Won't Give Them An Offer, So They Can't Refuse

Today is the deadline for teams to offer their own free agents arbitration. If a team does not offer arbitration to the player, they cannot re-sign them until May 1st, which my calendar tells me is a month into the season.

If they offer arbitration, the player has two options, with a 12/19 deadline for a decision. He can accept arbitration, at which point the player is guaranteed a one year contract, at a price to be determined later by a third-party. If he declines, he has until January 8 to work out a contract with the team, or be unable to re-sign with them until May. He can, however, work a deal out with another club at any time.

For the original club to receive draft pick compensation, they must offer the player arbitration. The exception is for those players who were signed by other clubs before tonight's deadline. Then, compensation is automatic.

The Nationals have decisions on a few players: Preston Wilson, Joey Eischen, Carlos Baerga, and Tony Armas, and only Wilson would merit compensation from another team.

The decisions won't be hard.

Wilson, Baerga and Armas definitely won't be offered arbitration. In Wilson's case, there really isn't a spot for him, and the prospect of him accepting and earning a budget-busting contract through arbitration is too great. Neither Baerga nor Armas would earn compensation, because neither is especially good. There's no chance they'll be offered it either.

Joey Eischen is an interesting case. The Nationals have expressed interest in re-signing him, but have been unable to work out a deal so far. If they can't, do they offer him arbitration, knowing that he'll probably be pulling down at least $1.5, especially with the crazy market for relievers this season? (He made $1.04 last year) He's not an especially good pitcher, but you do know what you'll get with him -- as opposed to someone Bowden picks up off the scrap heap.

Given the choice of having to sign him to a multi-year deal prior to the deadline, or taking my chances with a one-year contract from arbitration, I guess I'd go with the arbitration. Or maybe I'd just sign Mike Myers.

Note: The arbitration deadline tonight is JUST for those players who qualify as free agents by having 6+ years of major league service time. Those players who are between 3-6 years, who qualify for salary arbitration, but not free agency, face a December 20th deadline for decisions on their contracts. The Nationals have 10 players who qualify for this type of arbitration, notably Wilkerson, Johnson, Patterson, and Schneider. But I'll look at that once that deadline gets closer.


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