Arbitration and Pending Free Agents | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

Last night, Paul Hagen reported on MLB.com that MLB and MLBPA set the arbitration mark for the 2012-2013 off-season. In order to gain a compensatory pick for losing free agents, ballclubs must offer their pending free agents at least $13.3 million. Furthermore, in order to gain a compensatory pick for losing free agents, ballclubs must have reserved the rights of those players from the opening of the season (i.e., no players traded mid-season can gain a compensatory pick if they become free agents). If a player rejects a club’s $13.3 million arbitration offer and becomes a free agent, that player’s former club gains a compensatory pick in the supplemental first round (unless the player is not signed before the June draft).

The Brewers currently feature two notable free agents, although neither player is likely to yield a $13.3 million offer from the club. Brewers’ righty Shaun Marcum is poised to reach free agency for the first time in his career, although he leaves the Brewers after an injury-shortened campaign in 2012. Former phenom reliever Francisco Rodriguez is also a likely free agent, but after a rocky year as an $8 million set-up man, a $5 million raise seems out of the question.

Marcum is a potentially intriguing option for a one-year deal at $13.3 million. Obviously, his injury-riddled past, mechanical changes in 2012, and overall stuff do not make Marcum a typical option for a large multi-year contract. When the righty stepped on the mound for the Brewers, he was above average during 2011 and 2012, notably finishing within the Top 20 for runs prevented among National League pitchers in 2011. Although Marcum did not defend his title as the Brewers’ most valuable pitcher with another great season in 2012, he remained a viable middle rotation pitcher for the Brewers (ultimately, he finished in the top 30 among 100+ IP NL starters for runs prevented). Overall, Marcum worked 520 IP with a 3.62 ERA (112 ERA+) after returning to the mound in 2010.

In order to offer Marcum a $13.3 million contract, the Brewers have to wager against two factors: (1) that Marcum will remain healthy enough to work 100+ innings for 2013, and (2) that there are not better pitching options available for a better price on the free agency market. Regarding (2), the benefit of offering an arbitration contract is that the Brewers will only be on the hook for one season. In that regard, Marcum could serve as a good stopgap until the Brewers’ situation with their young arms is entirely sorted. However, there are other starting pitching options available that might pitch more innings than Marcum; would an (estimated) $50-$60 million multi-year deal to a pitcher such as Anibal Sanchez provide the Brewers with more value? Are there other durable pitchers available for one year?

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Comments

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  1. Matt T says: October 25, 2012

    The $13 million mark seems rather high. It seems like it could be detrimental to a “poorer” ballclub like Milwaukee. Guys who make $13 million at their first signs of arb are rare. But the hidden “ding” to the poor clubs is that a rich team like the Yankees can toss away $13 million on a flier, and if the guy sucks, so what. Milwaukee has to think long and hard about committing that kind of money to one player.

    Basically, Milwaukee offering Marcum $13 million is a substantial risk for a good year or a comp pick; New York offering Marcum $13 million is an after-thought.

    • Nate T. says: October 25, 2012

      If the going rate for WAR is around $9million per than Marcum would have to be right league average to earn that contract. If he pitches at levels comparable to the last 2.5 years than this contract would be more than fair and actually to the Brewer’s benefit because all of the risk is packaged up in one year or they receive a compensatory pick. However, from a previous entry on this site, Marcum’s avg velocity had decayed this year from last year along with some of his command and control. Perhaps this was due to being injured or maybe his stuff is becoming even more junky. I don’t think he receives any 3+ year offers so $13.3mil will probably look good to him. A tough decision looms for the Crew.

      • Nicholas Zettel says: October 25, 2012

        I agree on the stuff issues; he is also working with his change up less, and becoming more of an “everything” thrower than a change-up specialist. One wonders whether he will be able to continue to pitch well with his cutter, slider, fastball, and change all serving big roles in his arsenal.

        I agree that it is a tough call, if only due to the potential for a one-year commitment. In a way, that’s just what the Brewers need, and there are always risks signing pitchers to longer contracts.

        On the other hand, could the Brewers simply rely on their youngsters?

        • Vijay says: January 6, 2013

          Blanton would be okay. He’s a solid-ish pitcher, but I’m not sure that would give the Brewers a ploayff-caliber rotation.Lee going to Philly hurts the Brewers in more ways than one by the way. Not only does it create a dominant team in the NL, but it probably creates a trickle-down effect. I expect Greinke to go to either the Yankees or Rangers, and it may be a good chance that Garza goes to the one who doesn’t get Greinke. It also sounds like Pavano prefers Minnesota. The Brewers might get hung out to dry here.

    • Nicholas Zettel says: October 25, 2012

      I think the argument about Mil/NY is true to some extent, but less so than previous seasons. Next year, I’ve read that MLB ballclubs are receiving substantial bases from the MLB TV contracts; I’ll have to find the link, but I believe they’re going to get something like $75 million/club from the new TV contract. What I do know is that the astronomical deals to guys like Fielder and Votto occurred because of the pending TV deal; these clubs are about to have a heck of a lot more money (and that’s before revenue sharing and local TV increases for a club like Milwaukee).

  2. Luke says: October 25, 2012

    It’s a shame that the Brewers won’t be able to get back a draft pick for when Marcum departs.

    • Nicholas Zettel says: October 25, 2012

      In a way it is; I suppose this is better than that ridiculous A+B compensatory system. At least now teams won’t need to fret about losing draft picks to sign relievers, for instance.

      This will be the MLB of freer free agency!

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