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Today, the Twins, and all of the other teams in baseball, need to determine whether they will offer arbitration to their own free agents. Because of the rules of Type A and Type B free agents, it isn't as simple as you might think.
The Twins have two Type A free agents, Carl Pavano and Matt Guerrier. They have four Type B free agents, Jesse Crain, Orlando Hudson, Brian Fuentes and Jon Rauch.
The Twins need to look at each case individually, and yet, within the concept of team needs and team budgeting. So today, I am going to post the players, give some thoughts and opinions on their situations and then encourage you to post your thoughts and predictions for what the Twins should do and what they will do.
Carl Pavano - he is a Type A free agent, so if the Twins offer him arbitration and he declines it, the Twins would get a sandwich pick and a pick from the team that does sign him. However, if they offer him arbitration, and he accepts it, he could make a lot of money for 2011. The Dodgers signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one year, $13 million deal. Ted Lilly signed a three year, $33 million deal. Those two are somewhat comparable players, and Pavano could make anywhere from $11-13 million in 2011 if he accepts. Based on his performance and innings pitched the last two years, he may be worth that much, but on a team with a budget of around $110-115 million, $12 million is a big chunk when a lot is already being committed to few players. However, Pavano's name is definitely popular in the rumor mill this offseason and he should be looking for a three year deal, and he should get it. So, I think it is safe to offer him arbitration, and take the two extra draft picks instead.
Matt Guerrier - He is also a Type A free agent. If the Twins offer him arbitration, he is likely to make somewhere between $4 and $4.5 million in 2011. That does seem high, and yet, there is a reason that he is a Type A free agent; he has been very good for a long time. Can he be good for one more? Despite being used so much over the past half-decade out of the Twins bullpen, he has been remarkably durable. He has given up some big home runs, but pitchers who have pitched as much as he has in big situations will have given up a few. He's not a strikeout pitcher, but he is a good pitcher. With so many question marks in the Twins bullpen, how many can the Twins afford to bring back? I've changed my mind on Guerrier. I would offer him arbitration. I'd be willing to pay him a little extra for one more year, and if he doesn't accept, there are two more draft picks. The last few years, Type A relief pitcher free agents have struggled to find teams, so may he signs an early agreement.
Jesse Crain - Since Crain is a Type B free agent, other teams do not need to gve up a draft pick. I would like to see Crain signed to a long-term deal, but he seems intent to take advantage of his free agency, something he is absolutely entitled to do. Seems like an easy decision to offer Crain arbitration and let him see what is out there. The risk is that if he accepts, he could cost $4-4.5 million for 2011 as well. I would risk that, but will the Twins?
Brian Fuentes - Fuentes is a Type B free agent. He is coming off of a season in which he was paid $9 million the last two seasons. In arbitration, he could easily duplicate that number for 2011. Although he is the best internal option, his price tag certainly puts him in a category where too much is too much. As much as I would like for Fuentes to be part of the Twins 2011 bullpen, I just don't think that it makes sense to offer him arbitration.
Jon Rauch - Rauch is in a tough spot. He is the reliever that puts up similar numbers to Matt Capps, who the Twins already have to pay way too much in 2011. He's not as dominant as Crain. He doesn't have the roots that Guerrier has, and yet, he would likely have a price tag similar, or higher because of the saves, than those two. He is a Type B free agent, so if the Twins don't offer him arbitration, they get no draft pick compensation.
Orlando Hudson - Had Hudson been a Type A free agent, the Twins could not have offered him arbitration. However, since he was so bad in the second half of the season, his numbers put him down to Type B status. It's pretty apparent that the Twins don't want him back in 2011. They would love the draft pick compensation, but if he accepts it, they would have to keep him around for awhile. If he thinks he can get a multi-year deal, he is probably delusional. So the Twins have to be careful on this one. In arbitration, he would likely get a contract very similar to the $5 million deal he got from the Twins in 2010.
What I would do? I'd offer arbitration to Pavano, Guerrier, Crain and Hudson.
What would you do? And why?
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