No Arb for Olivo, Polanco, Dye, Dotel
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.
I’m somewhat surprised, but there are a lot of decent free agents not being offered arbitration (Randy Wolf, Miguel Tejada, Orlando Hudson, Jon Garland, Vicente Padilla, Rich Harden, Aubrey Huff, the list goes on). Of the 4 names listed here, there are some intersting cases. Dye would be a very nice short term solution for LF and 1B, presumably splitting time with Pagan and Murphy, respectively, allowing FMart and Davis time to mature at AAA. He provides a solid power bat and would suffice as a respectable #5 hitter. But anything longer than a 1 year commitment would be dangerous, and anything greater than $4-5M would be too much.
Adding Dotel would give the Mets 3 cannons in the bullpen who can bring it at 95+, along with Stokes and Parnell. Certainly an arm worth considering if the price is right.
Polanco should only be an option if Castillo is traded, and I wouldn’t go too far out of my way to deal Castillo just to get Polanco. Castillo’s speed, high OBP, and bunting ability give him the edge in the 2 hole over Polanco, in my eyes.
Olivo I wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole. I know some may rave about his defense and power, but something about him just turns me off. Interesting the name Dioner Navarro comes up now that the Rays have landed Shoppach, but Navarro stands to make more money than he’s worth in arbitration over the next 2 years to play 2nd fiddle to Olivo. And then what happens to Omir Santos? I’d much prefer finding a short term platoon partner for Santos, who can hit left handed, and who won’t impede Josh Thole’s progression to the bigs. Because of Navarro’s salary, I’m afraid that would happen.
I wouldn’t worry about impeding the progression of a potential second-string catcher. Let’s be realistic — Josh Thole is a nice prospect, but his ceiling resembles that of Jason Phillips.
And considering that, Navarro’s salary doesn’t scare me — not for a switch-hitting 25-year-old All-Star catcher, and not when the Mets have the ability to throw $2M to the likes of Alex Cora.
Navarro made $2.1M last year — after losing in arbitration (one of only about 3 or 4 losers in 10 years). He won’t make much more after a terrible season. The Mets paid Brian Schneider $5M last year. You do the math.
The worry should come when Cora and Coste get guaranteed roster spots, and people like Elmer Dessens and Tim Redding get million-dollar deals. Try to find another mid-20s catcher with any kind of skill set that is available as a FA or through a cheap trade, and then you will understand my stance on Navarro.
I also think we differ on our Josh Thole projections. Whereas you see a Jason Phillips clone, I see Paul Lo Duca potential. And really, not much seperates the two, besides consistency and plate discipline. Each of the last 3 seasons Thole’s had a .267+ average and a .372+ OBP, so there’s your consistency. And he’s also walked more than he’s struck out in each of his last 3 seasons, so there’s the plate discipline. I believe I’m tempering my expectations for Thole pretty well, because I certainly don’t see him as the next Mike Piazza or Ivan Rodriguez. But by all calculations he should be a solid .300 hitter who gets on base .360+ and will give the opposition a tough at bat, so what’s not to like?
As far as Molina vs Olivo, I pick neither. I suppose Olivo is the lesser of the two evils though because his production will be close to Molina’s while he’ll be making much less and won’t require a multi-year pact.
And also: neither Delgado or Tatis were offered arbitration.
2. The Dodgers gave out no arb. So Hudson can walk. But the Mill has the Dodgers interested in castillo..(?) Dude the reason I hate this team as constructed is there was NO extra base power. Castillo is great in the #2 slot but RARELY could the Mets plate runs. Pagan/reyes leading off were not the issue/nor was Castillo (generally). But the Mets have a dearth of slap hitters and can afford to lose Castillo. I still say Brandon Phillips is a must have here (if he is really available).
3. For the reason above NO to Damon. I WOULD like Xavier Nady though, Oh and Vlad is a FA again….
4. I dont think delgado is/will be healthy enuff for 1st base. DH maybe.