Yesterday, the Yankees declined to offer arbitration to all of their free agents (Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Lance Berkman, and Kerry Wood) except for Javier Vazquez.
We can quite easily say that offering to Vazquez was the riskiest thing the Yankees could have done. He had, by far, the worst year of the five and made a good chunk of change. Had he accepted, the Yankees probably would’ve been on the hook for a good deal of money and a (probably) unproductive player. But, Vazquez and the Yankees had an agreement, and Vazquez turned down arbitration. So, he’ll give the Yankees a sandwich pick when he signs elsewhere. This may be the best thing Javy’s done for the Yankees in 2010 (yes that’s hyperbole).
Not offering to Wood and Berkman makes a bit of sense. Wood made a lot of money and the risk of acceptance was far too big for the reward. Seeing as how Berkman wanted his option to be declined, offering him arbitration would seem less risky, but the Yankees played it safe. It’s better to be weary of the dollar, I guess.
I can’t say, though, that I expected no offers of arbitration to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. At the end of the day, I think they’ll both end up with multi-year contracts with the Yankees so arbitration may have been superfluous. Still, I think they should’ve offered it to both players.
On the off chance that Jeter and Rivera had accepted arbitration, this would ultimately help the Yankees. While it would likely mean a massive pay day for each player, the commitment on the Yankees’ end would’ve been just one year. With aging relievers and aging shortstops, the shorter the deal, the better.
Even a decline of arbitration from either (or both) player(s) could’ve helped the Yankees. Both Rivera and Jeter likely have very little leverage on the open market. Both are pricing themselves very highly, probably too highly for any team but the Yankees. If JeVera declined arbitration, draft pick compensation would be attached. This, IMO, makes the players even more unattractive to non-Yankee teams. It may not hurt Rivera as much since he’s still performing at an elite level, but it would definitely hurt Jeter. Jeter is an aging player at a premium position–one he doesn’t field all that well–who is entering his decline phase. For the money Jeter wants and the loss of a draft pick, I don’t think any teams are willing to go that high.
Michael Kay has argued a Jeter-related point that is contrary to mine. He thinks the Yankees shouldn’t have offered Jeter arbitration because if he accepted, he’d be making a ton of money. He then posits that if Jeter has a good bounce back year, he’ll demand even more money after the 2011 season. Here’s how I see it.
Like I’ve said, I’m willing to give Jeter the money and not the years. I’d rather overpay him grossly for one year than for multiple years. My other reason is a bit cold hearted. Say the Yankees DID offer Jeter arbitration and he DID accept. Let’s just throw a number out there and say his salary for 2011 would be $23MM (I think Kay suggested this). Let’s also assume that he bounces back and hits to his career averages. Obviously, this would put the leverage on Jeter’s side. If all that were to happen, I think the Yankees could just let Jeter walk.
Let’s think about it. They will (again) have paid Jeter handsomely. He will have gotten his 3,000th hit. The Yankees could easily say that Jeter’s time as a Yankee is up.
I felt a bit dirty typing that, but it could’ve happened. Anyway, it doesn’t matter all that much since the Yankees didn’t actually offer Jeter arbitration. I’m surprised they didn’t offer it to him or Rivera and I’m very surprised that they did offer it to Vazquez (of course, before I knew of their arrangement).
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