We’ve talked about this a bit before, but with it becoming official that Ivan Rodriguez will be a Type B free agent, we should revisit it. Should the Yankees offer him arbitration in order to gain a supplemental round pick when he signs with a different team? There are a couple of factors to consider in this decision, and I’m sure it’s something the Yankees mulled at their organizational meetings.
If the Yankees do offer Pudge arbitration, there is always the risk he accepts. As we learned when I read through the relevant sections of the CBA, this means he is counted as a player for next season and is added to the 40-man roster. The Yankees will then either have to hammer out a deal with him, or go to an arbitration hearing. Neither of these seems ideal, as the Yankees surely don’t want him back. They can cut him prior to Spring Training and only be liable for a portion of his salary, but they’ll then 1) not get the supplemental pick when he signs elsewhere and 2) be short a 40-man roster spot, which can be used to protect J.B. Cox, Alan Horne, Chris Garcia, etc. from the Rule 5 draft.
However, it doesn’t seem that large a risk. Pudge knows that the Yankees plan to start Jorge Posada behind the dish. Surely he does not want to be relegated to backup status, which he would be if Jorge proves healthy in Spring Training. Plus, he could probably get a two-year deal elsewhere, which would be far more attractive to him at this stage in his career. Chances are that he’d decline an arbitration offer, though it’s certainly no sure thing.
Because he is a Type B free agent, there is no disincentive for a team to sign him. Had he been a Type A, as was the projection at Tiger Thoughts, Pudge would have been more likely to accept arbitration. Teams would have probably stayed clear, not wanting to sacrifice a first rounder for a 37-year-old catcher who was putrid in the second half. Without the draft pick at stake, Pudge becomes more attractive for a team in need of a catcher (helloooo Mets).
In this instance, I think the risk of offering Pudge arbitration is worth the potential reward of a supplemental pick. It helps in the mission to rebuild the farm system, and gives us some form of compensation for Pudge, who was an utter disappointment in pinstripes.