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Arbitration offers turned down by 25 out of 27 free agents

Dec 1, 2010, 10:15 AM EDT

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For all the speculation about which Type A and Type B free agents would and wouldn’t accept arbitration offers just two of the 27 eligible players said yes: Frank Francisco of the Rangers and Jason Frasor of the Blue Jays.

I’ve seen some suggestions that the low number of accepted arbitration offers means this offseason is a player’s market, but in reality two out of 27 is a pretty standard acceptance rate. Last offseason three players (Carl Pavano, Rafael Soriano, and Rafael Betancourt) accepted arbitration and the winter before that two players (Darren Oliver and David Weathers) did so.

It’s interesting to note that, of the seven free agents to accept arbitration offers in the past three years, six of them are relievers. I wrote earlier this month about how the free agent compensation system significantly overrates relievers relative to other positions by pegging them as 37 percent of Type A free agents, and certainly six of the past seven arbitration acceptances coming from relievers is more evidence of that.

Free agents accept arbitration when they believe returning to their old team on a one-year contract beats whatever offers they can get on the open market, so clearly relievers’ values are the most likely to be overrated by the Type A and Type B designations. The compensation system is faulty for any number of reasons, but the weight given to relief performances is seemingly one of the more obvious and easy-to-fix problems.

  1. iranuke - Dec 1, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    I’d like to point out that if most teams are running with 11 pitchers, six will typically be releivers. With a 25 man roster this is 24% of the team. Releavers generally get shorter contracts than position players or starters, and some teams have 12 pitchers on the roster. Both of these factors would tend to increase the number of relievers on the market, and increase the number of Type A free agent relievers.

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