Thursday, January 22, 2009

What I learned today

I learned that the arbitration figures, once settled, are not guaranteed contracts. I didn't realize this; I thought all baseball contracts are guaranteed. A team could release a player after arbitration and only responsible for 1/6th of their salary.

A lot has been made about Jason Varitek and some other free agents not accepting arbitration, and it has even been suggested in a few places that Varitek [...] made a mistake by declining arbitration. But that suggestion may not be right.

In Varitek's case an arbitration award could have meant about $11 million, as he made $10.4 million last year. However, going to arbitration and having a fully guaranteed contract are two different things. To that point the Red Sox had declined to guarantee any offers to Varitek (arbitration deals are not fully guaranteed) and were hinting that Varitek's playing time might be diminished, so Varitek ultimately worried that the Sox only offered arbitration to keep the dialogue going and that ultimately they might release him after going to arbitration with him. Had the Red Sox taken him to arbitration, in reality they were only guaranteeing a little more than $1.5 million (a team that releases a player after arbitration but before the season only has to pay one-sixth of the salary). This is a fairly rare occurrence but it has happened in the case of Todd Walker and several other players.

Even so, it's still a mystery to many why Varitek didn't take arbitration. And even Red Sox owner John Henry asked Varitek in their well-publicized meeting a week ago why he didn't take the arbitration offer. The reason is that Varitek didn't believe that accepting arbitration would guarantee him a spot on the team.

1 comment:

Zoolander said...

This makes you wonder if Cashman should have rolled the dice and offered Abreu arbitration. The Yankees could have collected a first round pick or they could have cut Abreu if he accepted arbitration.