Sox Offer Arbitration, Yanks Do Not

In what seems to be a clear contrast with the strategy of the Yankees (see Nick's post below), the Red Sox tonight have offered arbitration to a veteran starter who's good for league-average performance and an aging veteran position player whose value to the team is now in question.

Paul Byrd and Jason Varitek will likely decline their offers, the Globe reports, allowing the Sox to receive as many as three draft picks should they sign elsewhere. There's some thought, however, that Byrd might actually accept his because, given his age, he might not get any better than the one-year deal he'd receive through the arbitration process. Far from being a Tony Graffanino situation, however — where he was surprised by the Sox' offer, grudgingly accepted it, and both sides were stuck — the Red Sox could do far worse than having Paul Byrd as the stopgap fifth starter until Clay Buchholz or Michael Bowden are ready.

There's no downside to these offers tonight; indeed, it's a surprising situation whenever there is a downside — which is what makes the Red Sox' decisions tonight so matter-of-fact and the Yankees' so surprising.
5 comments… add one
  • I dont think that it simply reflects a difference in strategy as much as a difference in the the free agent situations that both teams face. For the Yankees, Pettitte and Abreu each could have earned $16+ in arbitration and that is simply too much to pay for them and their diminishing skill sets. This is especially true for Pettitte. In this off season in particular for the yankees in which they are targeting multiple free agents, they need to retain full flexibility and control over where their money is spent. For example how can they determine if they should bid more on Burnett, if there is a $32 mil question mark hanging over two of their players until Feb? Losing the picks sucks, but it is the price the yankees will pay to retain the flexibility they need now. In this case I think there is a large downside to Yankees offering arb to these two players.
    In the Sox case, Varitek is likely coming back and if he accepts arbitration he is basically doing them a favor as they dont want to sign him for more than 1-2 years. Byrd made about $7 mil last year and losing an arb case to him wouldnt break the bank as it would for Pettitte and the yankees.
    I think both teams made the correct decisions in all of these cases and wouldnt be surprised if the teams were switched they made the same decisions as their rivals.

    Sam-YF December 2, 2008, 9:04 am
  • I disagree. The chances of Abreu, in particular, accepting arbitration appear remote, and given Pettitte’s meh performance last season, I’m not sure he would have won an arb case even if he did accept an offer, and I don’t think that would have been particularly likely either.
    I can see your point, Sam, that both players would command more in arbitration, but I don’t agree that the chances were particularly strong that either would have accepted — and I’d say Pettitte accepting wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world for the Yankees anyway.

    Paul SF December 2, 2008, 9:11 am
  • Paul
    Arbitration cases basically never result in substantial pay cuts so even if the yankees offer Pettitte say $10-12 mil and he asks for his current salary to be extended for an additional year, the team would be unlikely to win plus the additional bad will that would be incurred in the process would not be worth it. In fact, the yankees actively avoid going to an arb hearing to avoid this type of thing. Furthermore, if the Yankees want to resign Pettitte (which I believe they do) not offering him arbitration provides them with much more leverage in the negotiations. Otherwise, if he doesnt like their offer, he can simply wait them out and go to an arbitrator.
    As for Abreu, I understand your point and would have loved to get some picks for him. But as you say, he is UNLIKELY to accept arb but this is not a sure thing. The yankees have clearly made the decision to move on from him and likely (hopefully) have other targets in mind to take his spot. If he did accept and his agent decided that the 3-4 year offers out there are depressed because of a bad economy they could have easily gone to arb and taken the money for the year. This could be problematic in Feb after the yankees have signed whoever they are gonna sign.
    My other main point was that the decisions made by the two teams dont reflect as much a difference in strategy as it did a difference in who they were deciding to offer arbitration to. The Sox are risking much less in term of both money and roster spots with their offering Byrd and Varitek arbitration. For me, I think its more useful to look at the 4 decisions mentioned in this post as individual decision instead of as overall strategies of the team vis-a-vis Arbitration. As I mentioned in a previous thread, Ill reserve judgement on these moves (esp Abreu) until I see how the off-season fully plays out.

    Sam-YF December 2, 2008, 9:33 am
  • Actually, now that I remember the one person I do have a quarrel with the yankees not offering arbitration is Pudge. It is highly unlikely he would have excepted and the picks for him would have been nice….

    Sam-YF December 2, 2008, 12:08 pm
  • Speaking of the Yankees, when are we going to have some Kei Igawa and Carl Pavano updates?

    SoxFan December 2, 2008, 6:21 pm

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