What arbitration deadline day means to Red Sox

Tomorrow is the first built-in deadline of the off-season. By midnight
– as Tuesday turns into Wednesday — all clubs must decide whether or
not to offer their six-year free agents arbitration.

If you
don’t offer a free agent arbitration, you lose any right to get draft
compensation for that free agent should he sign elsewhere.

This
is why it is a guarantee that the Sox will offer arbitration to Type A
free agents Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre. They will get two picks
for Martinez and two for Beltre should they find new homes. Both Beltre
and Martinez have a week to decide if they want to accept arbitration.
Neither player will accept because if they did, it would guarantee they
had to stay with the Red Sox and take them off the free agent market,
thus taking away all their leverage. The Type A free agent who would
accept an arbitration offer if he got one is someone coming off a bad
year. Manny Ramirez is a perfect example. The Red Sox took a gamble and offered Jason Varitek
arbitration in 2008 and were very lucky that Varitek declined.
Otherwise, they would have paid him twice what he wound up getting.

The Sox have two Type B free agents this year — Jason Varitek
and Felipe Lopez. It’s doubtful the Sox will offer arbitration to
Varitek because that would guarantee him a salary of somewhere around
$3 million. As a backup, he probably isn’t going to get that on the
open market. Most people believe that the only reason the Sox signed
Lopez late in the season after the Cardinals released him was because
of the potential for compensation. The Red Sox would get one pick in
the sandwich round — between the first and second round — if someone
signs Lopez. However, with Lopez coming off such a poor year, it could
be a gamble because he might actually accept arbitration. Under that
scenario, the Sox could avoid paying the bulk of his salary by
releasing him late in Spring Training. They could also try to trade him.

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