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Who in their right mind would offer Carlos Beltran arbitration?

Jul 19, 2011, 12:03 PM EDT

beltran getty wide Getty Images

Look, I’m not going to pretend that I’m anywhere near the most knowledgeable dude on the planet when it comes to transactions, but I don’t get something that Buster Olney has been going on about for the past couple of days.  Short version: his belief that Carlos Beltan’s contract clause that prevents teams from offering him arbitration after the season hurts his trade value.

On the one hand I totally understand that this forecloses teams from trading for him with the idea of offering him arb, letting him walk and getting draft pick compensation for their trouble.  But wouldn’t such a gambit be outrageously risky here?  Beltran is not in a situation where he can expect a raise in his annual salary once he signs as a free agent.  Sure, he could get multiple years, but he’s not going to beat the $18.5 million he’s making right now on an annual basis.

Given what we’ve seen in the corner outfielder/DH market these past couple of years (i.e. low salaries or, in the case of Werth and Bay, high-dollar busts), isn’t it possible that Beltran would at least seriously consider accepting arbitration where, because of the nature of the beast, he’d make at least that $18.5 million and maybe a bit more?

And don’t tell me that Beltran is a Scott Boras client and he’d want to hit the market. The most famous arbitration burn of all time came when Greg Maddux — also a Boras client — unexpectedly accepted arbitration from the Braves before the 2003 season, gladly taking $14.75 million, knowing he’d never get that much on the open market.

So while it’s a moot point now because of that clause, ask yourself: how many teams would be willing to take the chance of having to pay Beltran more than $18.5 million in 2012 in order to get a pick or two?  And if there aren’t many who would, how would the inability of those teams to do so negatively impact Beltran’s market?  Maybe it’s a different story if he’s a $10-12 million player right now.  But at $18.5 millions? Yikes.

He’s a rental player for almost every team. And he would be regardless of what his contract says about arbitration.

  1. Jonny 5 - Jul 19, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    Arbitration for Beltran could yield a one year deal, although probably high, it would be preferable to a 2 or 3 year deal at a lower rate. He is really good for a short period of time more than likely. 18 million for 1 season or 30 + million for ____ amount of time? I’m thinking that’s what he’s got in mind.

    • Jonny 5 - Jul 19, 2011 at 12:39 PM

      When you compare it to what Werth and Crawford got, then look at their results for this season, Beltran for 1 season at 18 mill isn’t all THAT crazy for a possible contender is it?

    • CJ - Jul 19, 2011 at 12:41 PM

      if it’s for example, 18 for one year vs 30 over 3 years and I were Beltran I’d glandly accept arb for the guaranteed money up front and take the chance that I play well enough to earn another 2-3 year deal the next year for better than 6 a year. Some AL team would surely pay him at least 6 a year to DH in a couple years.

  2. uyf1950 - Jul 19, 2011 at 12:35 PM

    Well probably Omar Minaya if he were still in charge of the Mets.

    • dan1111 - Jul 19, 2011 at 12:51 PM

      Why offer arbitration when you can sign him to another 7 year deal?

  3. seanmk - Jul 19, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    if anything it curtails mets from trading him since they get less value back. Thus why they are willing to pay his entire salary to get a good prospect back. The principle of being able to offer abritration and being a type A free agent is all that matters.

  4. jjschiller - Jul 19, 2011 at 12:49 PM

    There’s no guarantee that he gets a raise in arbitration. Free agent arbitration is not the same animal as arbitration of team-controlled players.

    You say a number, the agent says a number, and the arbiter picks one. You don’t have to peg the players value exactly, you just have to be more reasonable than he is. Granted, these things tend to favor the player, but it wouldn’t be hard to find convincing numbers that show Beltran isn’t an $18m player.

    I actually doubt that Boras would even submit a number as high as $18m, for fear that the team could submit any integer greater than 1 and it be seen as more fair.

    Besides, once he accepts, you can negotiate with him rather than see the arbiter. Or, you can trade him. If you just acquired him via trade, he has no 10 and 5 rights with you. And once his contract expires, and he chooses arbitration, he has no no-trade clause to protect him, either.

    • dan1111 - Jul 19, 2011 at 1:00 PM

      Actually, once a player accepts arbitration, the player becomes team-controlled, and the process is exactly the same. Any discussion of it that I have seen assumes that the player’s salary won’t go down.

      • jjschiller - Jul 19, 2011 at 1:33 PM

        Actually, no. The rules are different for players who opt for arbitration rather than pursue free agency.

        Free-agent eligible players can be offered less than the 80% minimum, and less than the 70% minimum from 1 year prior.

        Also, non-free-agent eligible players are granted non-guaranteed contracts and can be released at various points with 30 or 45 days of compensation pay. Free-agent eligible players who go through arbitration are granted guaranteed contracts and if they are released, are entitled to the full-sum of their contracts.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Jul 19, 2011 at 1:12 PM

      I believe the rule is that you can offer no lower than 80% of last year’s contract. So the lowest he could be offered would be around $14 or $15 million.

      • jjschiller - Jul 19, 2011 at 1:35 PM

        This rule only applies to players who aren’t yet eligible for free-agency. This is because these players can use only players in their service time bracket as compararables.

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