Dodgers Face Tuesday Decisions For Hudson, Wolf, Others

Tuesday could be an important day in determining the shape of the Dodger offseason.  December 1 is decision day for clubs to offer arbitration to free agents in the top 40% at their respective positions.  Players are ranked by the Elias Sports Bureau based on stats from the previous two seasons, and split into groups:

  • Type A free agents: in the top 20% of their respective position group
  • Type B free agents: in the top 40%, but not in the top 20%, of their respective position group

By offering arbitration, a club guarantees itself some form of compensation should the player decide to leave.  Type A free agents net two draft picks to the former club -- one in the first round (unless that club has a protected pick in the top 15) and one supplemental pick between the first and second rounds.  If a team signs more than one Type A free agent, picks in subsequent rounds are used, and the former team of the higher-ranking free agent (based on the Elias rankings) gets the higher pick.  For instance, last year the Yankees gave up picks in the first three rounds for signing Type A free agents Mark Teixeira (1st round to Angels), C.C. Sabathia (2nd round to Milwaukee), and A.J. Burnett (3rd round to Toronto).  Type B free agents net just a supplemental pick.

If a player accepts arbitration, he is bound to the team for another year.  Player and club each submit a salary figure sometime between January 5 and January 15, and if they don't come to a contract agreement on their own, will face off in an arbitration hearing sometime between February 1 and February 20.

The deadline to offer arbitration to these free agents is Tuesday night, December 1, at 9pm.  Players have until Monday night, December 7, to accept or decline the offer.

Here's a look at the Type A and Type B free agents for the Dodgers:

Orlando Hudson

2009 Salary: $7.99 million

2009 Stats:  .283/.353/.417, 109 OPS+, 2.9 WAR, 74 runs, 35 doubles, one cycle

2010 Age: 32

2010 Free Agent Status: Type A

Hudson is the litmus test for the offseason.  Offering him arbitration should be a no-brainer.  Hudson is exactly the type of player you would want back on a one-year deal.  He compares favorably with all the other second base options, but if he accepts arbitration the Dodgers wouldn't be on the hook for a multi-year contract.  But here's the thing:  there is no way Hudson will accept arbitration.  Hudson split time in September with Ronnie Belliard at second base, then the O-Dog was benched for the playoffs.  As a player who was an All-Star this season, as well as a Gold Glover (deservedly or not), Hudson was rightfully miffed at his benching, as Ramona Shelburne noted last month in the LA Daily News:

According to Hudson, Torre never once called him into his office to discuss the situation, a slap in the face Hudson has trouble accepting.

"My teammates talked to me about it more than Joe did, but I never had any answers because (Torre) and I never talked," Hudson said. "There was no conversation."

Does this sound like someone who wants to come back?  No way.  But even if he does return, as unlikely as it seems, it would be good for the Dodgers.  If the Dodgers are so risk averse as to try to avoid the infinitesimal chance the Hudson would cost them another $8 million or so, that's a bad sign.  Only good things can happen by offering Hudson arbitration:

  • Hudson declines arbitration, signs elsewhere, and the Dodgers get two draft picks in 2010
  • Hudson accepts arbitration, Dodgers get a 2.5 to 3-win player for a one-year deal

If the Dodgers don't offer arbitration, it will be for monetary reasons only.  Saving money in the short-term on things they should be spending money on will only hurt the team in the long run.

Prediction:  I hope I'm wrong, but the Dodgers won't offer Hudson arbitration

Randy Wolf

2009 Salary: $8 million

2009 Stats:  11-7, 3.23 ERA, 122 ERA+, 4.00 FIP, 4.28 x-FIP, career high in starts (34), innings (214.1) and WHIP (1.101)

2010 Age: 33

2010 Free Agent Status: Type A

Wolf is another guy that would be great to have back on a one-year deal, another easy choice to offer arbitration.  The starting pitching free agent market isn't so hot, and Wolf just might be the second-best free agent starter behind John Lackey.  Wolf is bound to get a multi-year contract somewhere.

Prediction:  Wolf gets offered arbitration

Ronnie Belliard

2009 Salary: $1.9 million

2009 Stats:  .277/.351/.425, 105 OPS+, 1.3 WAR, 10 HR, 39 runs, 39 RBI in 287 PA

2010 Age: 35

2010 Free Agent Status: Type B

Belliard would be a nice player to have back, a right-hander with some pop off the bench.  He can spot start at second or third base, even if his glove scares the hell out of me at the hot corner.  After 2007, he signed a two-year, $3.5 million contract following five years as a regular player.  He is coming off two years as a sub (624 combined in 2008-2009), so I don't think he would get anything more than $1.5-$2 million in arbitration.  I would offer Belliard arbitration, gladly taking either the supplemental pick or Mini Manny for 2010.

Prediction: Dodgers don't offer arbitration to Belliard

Vicente Padilla

2009 Salary: $12 million

2009 Stats:  12-6, 4.46 ERA, 100 ERA+, 4.45 FIP, 2.0 WAR, 147.1 innings

2010 Age: 32

2010 Free Agent Status: Type B

After Padilla climbed his way up the Dodger starting pitching ladder to the top spot in October -- he was the only Dodger starter to make three starts in the postseason -- it would be hard for the club to argue against his worth in arbitration.  That said, Padilla reeks of Jose Lima.  If the Dodgers want him back, it's best to sign him to a deal smaller than he would receive in arbitration.  The Dodgers are already way ahead on the Padilla transaction.  It's better to pick up their chips and cash them in rather than buy in for another round.

Prediction: No; offering Padilla arbitration is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the leg

Jon Garland

2009 Salary: $7.25 million

2009 Stats:  11-13, 4.01 ERA, 111 ERA+, 4.48 FIP, 2.4 WAR, 204 innings

2010 Age: 30

2010 Free Agent Status: Type B

With Garland, it is never pretty or flashy, as his career 4.7 strikeouts per nine innings suggest.  However, Garland isn't a bad guy to have fill out the back end of a rotation: a league average or slightly below average pitcher that puts up 200 innings a year and doesn't miss a start.  That said, if the Dodgers want Garland back, they would be better served to try to sign him to a lower deal on the open market rather than head to arbitration.

Prediction:  No; if the Dodgers wanted to pay Garland anything significant in 2010, they wouldn't have declined his 2010 option.

Guillermo Mota

2009 Salary: $2.35 million

2009 Stats:  65.1 innings, 3.44 ERA, 115 ERA+, 4.12 FIP, 4.49 x-FIP, -0.1 WAR

2010 Age: 35

2010 Free Agent Status: Type B

The Dodger bullpen is loaded as is.  There is really no point to pay anything for someone who shouldn't be higher than sixth or seventh at best on the depth chart.  Fun fact: Mota has the fifth best ERA+ ever (143) by a Dodger reliever (minimum 200 games).

Prediction: The Dodgers will not offer arbitration to Mota

Will Ohman

2009 Salary: $1.35 million

2009 Stats:  12.1 innings, 5.84 ERA, 68 ERA+, 7.93 FIP, 5.68 x-FIP, lots and lots of DL time

2010 Age: 32

2010 Free Agent Status: Type B

With George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo in the bullpen, Ohman is simply redundant as another lefty reliever.  Ohman was hurt for most of the year, and I never got a chance to interview him, which is a shame because from some of the excerpts from spring training he seemed hilarious.

Prediction: No; like Garland, if the Dodgers wanted Ohman back, they would have picked up his 2010 option.

The Dodgers have seven decisions to make by Tuesday night.  I think they should offer arbitration to three (Hudson, Wolf, and Belliard), but I believe they will only offer arbitration to Randy Wolf.

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