Tonight at midnight, some of your favorite baseball players might turn into pumpkins! Or not really, they'll either be dismissed as worthless by your favorite team or offered a miserly salary that is less a living wage and more like a slap in the face. It's a win-win situation for baseball teams and a lose-lose situation for players in today's dismal economy.
The good people at Elias rank free agents every offseason based on things like "statistics" and "production" and "propensity to not suck". The top tier of free agent players (like Mark Teixeira) get labeled "Type A" while the second tier of players (like Jason Giambi) get labeled "Type B" and are branded with a cattle iron in the shape of a sad face. USA Today published a full list of rankings (here's the AL, here's the NL). The free agents are listed in bold. What, Juan Uribe is only Type B? I'm shocked!
So teams have until tonight to make a semi-serious offer to their free agents, or else they won't be properly compensated when another team swoops in and signs that player away. They'll be giving up two first round picks for each Type A free agent they fail to make an offer to and one sandwich pick between the first and second round for each Type B free agent who gets voted off the island. But it's complicated, because teams don't want to simply make any old offer to any old player, because what if (gasp) they accept!
That's why Anaheim let 58-year-old outfielder and lifetime Angel Garret Anderson walk away without an offer. They declined a $14 million option on him for 2009 and gave him a $3 million buyout. But to offer arbitration and to have him accept, the Angels would have had to pay far more for a player on his career decline, so they cut ties. Also, they already have twelve other outfielders and are probably going after Manny Ramirez. Garret Anderson, another victim of redundancy in the workplace and today's economic strife! In response, Anderson hired Scott Boras and will probably get 5 years and $75 million from the Astros.
Of course, the Angels will make a below-market offer to Teixeira; he'll easily get far more on the open market and the Angels will get their compensatory draft picks which they will probably waste in a swap for a mediocre middle infielder sometime before 2009's trade deadline. It's the circle of life, people. Some other free agents may actually accept their team's arbitration offers because the economy is in the shitter and they'd rather wait another year before cashing in. Buy low, sell high works for people, too.
So don't expect the Yankees to offer arbitration to Pudge Rodriguez, don't expect the White Sox to offer arbitration to Ken Griffey, and don't expect the A's to offer arbitration to Frank Thomas. Wait a minute...Pudge, Griffey, and Frank Thomas? What year is this, 1997?