Today is the last day for teams to offer arbitration to players who have filed for free agency.
If you are unaware, this is a big deal particularly in regard to free agents who are classified as “Type A” or “Type B”. When a team offers arbitration to those free agents, and the player signs elsewhere, the team receives compensation draft picks — one of which comes from the new team that signed the free agent. So for example, if the Mets sign a “Type A” free agent who had been offered arbitration by his former team, they would lose their 2nd-round pick in the June 2010 draft. Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors offers a more detailed explanation.
So when a “Type A” or “Type B” free agent is NOT offered arbitration, the eventual signing team doesn’t lose any draft picks.
Today, it’s been announced that, among others, Type A free agents Placido Polanco, Jermaine Dye, and Octavio Dotel, and Type B free agent Miguel Olivo have NOT been offered arbitration by their 2009 clubs. I highlighted these four because they all fit holes that need to be filled by the Mets.
For those who are in favor of signing Orlando Hudson, you may want to take a look at Polanco, who is a better fielder, nearly as good offensively (some say as good), and also fits the description of “team leader”. Polanco also is more versatile — in addition to playing Gold Glove defense at 2B, he is also capable of handling SS, 3B, and the OF if necessary. The drawback is that Polanco just turned 34 — two years older than Hudson. But he might come more cheaply, and/or require a shorter contract term. If the Mets can trade Luis Castillo this winter, I’d be very happy to have Polanco take his place at second base.
The 35-year-old outfielder started out strong but had a terrible second half — still, he finished the year with twice as many homeruns (27) as the Mets’ leading homerun hitter. His incredible fall in performance and age are major concerns, but they also drive his price down. I’m assuming the Mets are not getting Jason Bay nor Matt Holliday, and the outfield market after those two studs drops considerably — to the likes of Rick Ankiel, Mike Cameron, and Xavier Nady, all of which will demand multi-year, overpriced contracts. Though I’d prefer someone with less risk and age, in this market, Dye makes sense — if you can sign him to a one-year contract with a low base salary that’s loaded with incentives. But, if you go the Moises Alou route of a guaranteed $9M deal, then it makes no sense at all.
The Mets need a setup man, if you hadn’t noticed. Dotel is no spring chicken, but he continues to make batters swing and miss. Again, his age is a negative but it drives the price down. And again, this market doesn’t offer many values. If the Mets are serious about contending in 2010, Dotel would be an ideal reliever to sign to a one-year deal — though, I wouldn’t stop there in building the bullpen.
At age 31, Olivo is not a young catcher, but he is the youngest in this year’s free agent class. He’s also the most athletic and has the most homerun power (he hit 23 HR last year). Defensively, he has among the best raw skills, and possibly the strongest arm. On the down side, he makes Jeff Francoeur look patient at the plate, and sometimes lets his emtions get the best of him. But he can probably be had on a cheap one-year deal, whereas the alternative — Bengie Molina — will command an expensive two-year deal plus a draft pick. Further, having Olivo means the Mets can still pursue another catcher (Dioner Navarro?) in a platoon situation, while it’s doubtful Molina would ever be happy sharing the position.
About the Author
Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers.