|Red Sox Offer Arbitration to Bay, Wagner||12.01.09 at 10:06 pm ET|
As expected, the Red Sox made official their offer of salary arbitration to free agents Jason Bay and Billy Wagner. Both are Type A free agents, meaning that if either signed with another club after declining the offer of arbitration, the Red Sox would receive two compensatory draft picks (one in the sandwich round between the first and second rounds, the other as high as a first rounder from the team that signs the player).
Bay is certain to receive a multi-year contract this offseason, and so there is no chance that he would accept arbitration. Wagner told WEEI.com during the season that he would decline arbitration (even though he likely could make more money through arbitration than as a free agent) because he prefers to sign with a team for whom he might close.
Even so, there is a chance that the market for Wagner’s services could be chilled by the Sox’ offer of arbitration to the left-handed reliever. With other potential closers on the market who will not require a signing team to part with a draft pick (Fernando Rodney, Octavio Dotel, Brandon Lyon), potential suitors might turn to those pitchers rather than Wagner, particularly given the left-hander’s age (38) and health concerns (he is the oldest known pitcher to return from Tommy John surgery).
That said, Wagner is also one of the best closers of all time, with 385 saves and a 2.39 lifetime ERA, and his numbers after returning to the mound in August 2009 (1.72 ERA, 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings) might convince a team to invest a draft pick in him. That could prove particularly true if Wagner is looking for fewer years than the other elite relievers who are on the market this offseason: Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano and Jose Valverde, all of whom, like Wagner, are Type A free agents who were offered arbitration.
The Sox declined to offer arbitration to outfielder Rocco Baldelli, right-handed pitcher Paul Byrd and infielder Chris Woodward. None of the three were Type A or Type B free agents who would yield a draft pick to the Sox if they were to sign with another club.
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