Arbitration Decision: Javier Vazquez

Arbitration Decision: Derek Jeter
Votto takes home NL MVP Award
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette)

As Joe detailed this morning, the Yanks’ decision to offer salary arbitration to Derek Jeter is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, their other key free agent made things difficult when he had an utterly terrible 2010. Still, I’d be willing to run the risk of extending a salary arbitration offer to Javier Vazquez.

The Javier Vazquez story begins last year when the Yanks decided to trade for him. In a deal I now call the Boone Logan Trade, the Yanks sent Melky Cabrera, Michael Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves for Logan and Vazquez. What made the deal so appealing was Vazquez’s contract status. With just one year left, the Yanks assumed he would maintain his recent success and his Type A status. The team would offer arbitration, and he would probably reject it. Had he accepted it, the Yanks would have had a quality pitcher at a reasonable rate.

Instead, Javy pitched himself all the way to Type B status. Javy went just 10-10 with a 5.32 ERA and threw only 157.1 innings. His strike outs dropped by 3 per 9 IP, and his walk rate doubled while his fastball velocity dipped well below 90. It was an utterly disastrous season, and the Yanks have a tough decision to make.

A few weeks ago, Mike went on the record with his view on the Javy issue. He wrote:

Javy Vazquez is a no-brainer. He’s a Type-B who made $11.5M in 2010, and of course he was awful (-0.2 fWAR) due to stuff that deteriorated as the season progressed. The best course of action is to simply cut ties and walk away. I know the Yanks considered two draft picks to be part of the deal (he was a Type-A once upon a time), but things didn’t work out. No sense in trying to force the issue, let Javy walk with no stings attached.

I disagree. The Yankees should offer Vazquez arbitration, and I doubt he would accept it. They could salvage something of this deal after all.

This move should come down to three factors. The first is Javy’s need to get out of New York. He’s still only 34 years old and ostensibly wants to keep pitching. To continue with his career — a career that saw him average 200 strike outs and 216 IP from 2000-2009 — he needs to pitch somewhere in which he is comfortable and can succeed. As much as I’m hesitant to believe that some players just don’t have the je ne sais quois to pitch in New York, Javy seems to fit the bill.

Furthermore, other teams are interested in him. The Nationals are interested in Vazquez, and the Marlins have met with him as well. Javy himself wants to pitch for the Marlins and appears to have interest from five other teams.

Finally, the Hot Stove League’s rumblings and grumblings suggest that Javy wants more than a one-year deal. Low-level rumors have Vazquez shooting for a three-year contract, and with a high level of interest among fringe teams, he should be able to secure a multi-year commitment. Considering these factors, the odds are slim that he’d accept arbitration.

But let’s assume that the Yankees offer him arbitration, and he accepts. The two sides could agree on a one-year deal followed by a trade or the two sides could go to a hearing. Since Javy would probably lose the hearing, the Yankees could wind up paying him under $10 million next year. While holding out hope in Javy might just be a fool’s errand, he could justify such a meager investment. After all, he was a 5-win pitcher in the AL as recently as 2008, and unless his arm is totally shot, he’s due for a bounce-back year in 2011.

Still, though, I’d put the odds of his accepting arbitration at no greater than five percent, and for the chance to secure a draft pick and salvage the trade, those are odds I would play. The Yankees have been risk-averse when it comes to their arbitration offers to free agents on the bubble, and I would be more surprised to see them offer arbitration to Javy than not. If they’re willing to roll the dice though, they just might make a move that proves to be both risky and smart.

Arbitration Decision: Derek Jeter
Votto takes home NL MVP Award
  • Andrew

    When is the deadline to offer? Could the Yankees permissably send a low-level prospect to the Marlins to sign him before the deadline and get the comp pick?

  • Jeremy

    Couldn’t agree more. Worst case scenario is they have him signed for 1 year, 10 million and try to trade him to an NL team. Even if they have to eat some of that money in a trade, they would get a prospect back. And if he rejects, Type B means teams won’t shy away from signing him for fear of losing their own pick.

  • gio

    Do you think offering him arbitration, and then his declining the offer, would affect teams’ willingness to sign him given it would cost them a pick?

    • JGS

      It wouldn’t cost them a pick.

      When a team loses a Type A, they get the team that signed him’s first round pick, as well as a sandwich pick.

      When a team loses a Type B, they just get a sandwich pick that wouldn’t exist if the player didn’t sign elsewhere. The team that signs him doesn’t lose anything of theirs, but the team that loses the player gains.

      • king of fruitless hypotheticals

        Heh. In reality EVERYONE who has draft picks behind the sandwich round loses…you get shoved back however many Type B’s signed!

        • JGS

          In theory that’s true, but I feel like that isn’t much of a deterrent.

          • Ed

            With a sandwich pick, everyone gets moved back 1 pick. Everyone feels it equally regardless of where the player signs, so there’s no reason to care if you sign the player instead of someone else signing him.

            With a Type A, if you’re losing your first round pick, you go from picking in the 15-30 range to picking around 80 or so. And someone else benefits by gaining that 15-30 pick you gave up. If you have a protected pick or sign your second type A it’s no where near as severe a drop off, but it’s still much more significant than the sandwich pick impact.

  • Across the pond

    Are teams allowed discuss it with the player to try and get an idea of where they are at?

    Say Cash goes to Javy, “If I offer it, will you decline it?”

    • nathan

      It was the norm. It still might be. Declining arb offers was a fad until coveting the picks became a fad.

      • Ed

        It used to happen often because in the past, if you didn’t offer your free agent arbitration, you lost the right to negotiate with them until May 1st. If you did offer, you could keep negotiating until mid-January.

        So there used to be an advantage to both sides to offering arb and having it declined. Now it has no advantage to the player, so it doesn’t happen anymore.

  • Danny T

    They should offer to get something back. I think there is ZERO chance he accepts. He stated he wants to pitch in Florida. So let him, and gain something in return. And if some off chance he does accept, im sure the Yanks and Marlins could work out a trade. How about Javy and Romaine for Josh Johnson? HAHA only kidding, i knot that would not happen. But seriously they should take a small chance.

    • a plethora of pinatas

      So you want to trade Vazquez and lettuce to Florida?

  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    Maybe he accepts, and Rothschild turns him into the NL version of Javy Vazquez the Yankees wanted when they got him?

    Rothschild = KLong?

  • Jimmy

    I sort of hate to admit knowing this but I think you meant to say “je ne sais quoi”, Ben.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      I don’t know what that means.

    • Rob NY

      You’re right. “Je ne sais quoi” means I don’t know what “sais” being the first person conjugation of savoir, to know. Je ne c’est quoi doesn’t make sense because “est” is a third person form of “etre” and “Je” is a first person pronoun.

      Stupid French.

      • Yank the Frank

        Those French have a different word for everything!

      • king of fruitless hypotheticals

        I still don’t understand…I’m not what?

  • Chris

    Based on their recent history, I would say there is almost no chance they offer him arbitration.

    • Mike HC

      I would hope not. Cashman would need some serious psychoanalysis on his obsession with Javy at that point.

    • vin

      Exactly. Cashman doesn’t get cute with these things. Even if there is some logic. The Jeter arbitration should be a slam-dunk, the Javy arbitration is a huge question mark. I honestly don’t expect Cashman to offer arbitration to either guy.

      • Ed

        Yup. Cashman’s big thing is he wants to sign people on his terms, he doesn’t want to go to arbitration and have to spend the winter trapped in uncertainty not knowing how the payroll will play out.

        Jeter’s a little bit of a wild card in that, as I think he’d much rather overpay Jeter in a one year deal than go too many years with him.

  • nathan

    Why wouldnt Javy accept. He knows NY doesnt need him, but accepting means he gets guaranteed 10 M or more. What’s his market now 2 years / 15 M max?

    If I were him I would accept and force NY’s hand to trade me to the Marlins or somebody.

    • vin

      There’s two reasons why he wouldn’t accept:

      1) he REALLY wants to get out of the AL (or NY in general).
      2) he honestly thinks he can get a multi-year deal on the open market.

      • nathan

        You think he will throw one more pitch for NY? Me neither. But accepting guarantees him 10-11 M. Also, what if there is something funky in his shoulder that prevents teams from signing him, I think you take the guaranteed arb offer and force Yanks’ hand. NYY will have no choice but to trade him and he still gets to keep his money for next year and sign an extension later.

        • BklynJT

          Agreed. Javy would be stupid to decline. The market is crap and he’s a crappy pitcher. The 10 mil he will make from the Yankees in 1 yr is likely more or equal to what he will get offered by the Marlins or Nationals for 2 years.

          • Benjamin Kabak

            I will bet you money that you are wrong. Considering how much players are signing for, Vazquez could easily get more than $10 million on the open market.

            • Slugger27

              i don’t want to bet money, but i definitely disagree… he might be able to get multiple years on a low salary, but i cant believe he would “easily” get higher than $10M AAV.

              the leverage we have is that he clearly hates it here and he knows he’d be in mop up relief, killin all his value for 2012 and beyond. but i dont think javy realistically believes he will get more than 10M AAV n the open market.

              • Benjamin Kabak

                I’m not talking AAV. I’m talking overall.

                BklynJT said, “The 10 mil he will make from the Yankees in 1 yr is likely more or equal to what he will get offered by the Marlins or Nationals for 2 years.” I don’t think that’s true at all.

                • Clay Bellinger

                  That may be true, but at best he might pull in a 2 year/$12 mil deal…and even that seems like a big risk considering his 2010 performance, loss of velocity, and amount of innings on his arm. His best bet would probrably be to take the $10 mil in 2011, hope to have a decent season, and try to pull in a decent deal for 2012.

                • BklynJT

                  I can’t see Javy getting a 3 year deal from any team given the terrible year and declined velocity.

                  I’m guessing he will sign for a 2 year deal if he doesn’t accept/get offered arbitration. You really think its only a 5% chance that Javy accepts arbitration?

                  Sure there is a lot of interest in Javy from clubs, but I think its mainly because they are looking at him as a cheap plan b alternative or are trying to get him at a bargain bin price because of his bad year.

                  With all that said, do you really think that he will get 6 mil or more a year for 2 years on the open market (not including incentives)? I personally don’t. Alot of players coming off down years have been signing those low base contracts (maybe with incentives) lately to increase their value for next offseason and that’s the kind of contracts I see offered to Javy.

                • darthevil lord of squash the small market teams

                  I agree with you Ben, if Javy declines Arb he will get a 2 to 3yr contract around 24 to 27 mil all gaureented income for 3 yrs. If he accepts he gets 11 for 1yr and then he’s 35 next off season which is redflag age and maybe he gets 10 mil for 2yrs or 1yr plus option. He wants the last big payday for himself this year and not risk potential long term injury risks for a year.No one knows for sure if Javy was hurt this year but 2yrs in a row of decline squashes any doubts some may have.

            • Ghost

              I’d take that bet in a heartbeat Ben, if you mean he can earn more than ten million on a one year deal. I could see the nationals doing something like 5-7 per for two years with incentive kick-ins that would increase the annual value to 9-10 million. Still why wouldn’t he take the money, have another shot with the yankees to up his value and then cash in on a big deal next offseason in the market.

              • Slugger27

                im with u ghost. i think he knows the pros and cons of both very well, but i am against offering arb cuz i think he would accept.

                he may hate his life, but its all about the benjamins.

                • Clay Bellinger

                  Can I get in on this bet too? After such a horrific year, he has to accept an arb offer in the area of 10 mil. There’s no way in hell someone gives him a 1 year/$10 mil deal on the open market. He’d take it knowing the Yanks will be forced to trade him. Then they’d deal him and be forced to eat a significant portion of his salary.

                  • Slugger27

                    ya, we agree on everything. i think not offering arb is a no-brainer.

  • Amol

    The problem with your analysis is that, while it’s a reasonable view of the facts, there’s no guarantee that Vazquez and his agent have a reasonable view of the facts. This is one of those decisions where I think you just have to defer to Brian Cashman’s judgement, because it doesn’t hinge on facts, but rather Javy Vazquez’s interpretation of those facts.

  • Mike HC

    You know what, I would not be surprised if Cashman did offer Javy arbitration and ended up paying him like 10 million again next year. When it comes to Javy, you can count on Cashman to make the wrong move.

  • Sexy Man Inc.

    Isn’t there a rule that states they can cut him by a certain date and not have to pay his full salary- Like they did with Gaudin last year?

    • Zack


      If the player is cut within 16 days before the season begins, he is entitled only to 30 days’ termination pay. If the player is cut during spring training but after the 16th day before the season begins, he is entitled only to 45 days’ termination pay.

      • Steve H

        Perfect escape clause.

        • Ed

          Keep in mind that arbitration must be offered in good faith. You can’t go to arb then cut a player because you don’t like the salary he won, or because you never wanted him in the first place. You have to cut him for on the field reasons. It would be hard to say “We cut him because he sucked” considering how terrible he was this past season.

          He’d basically need to be throwing 80 or have an ERA of 9 in spring training to get away with cutting him. If he pitched like he did this year, the player’s association would argue the team got what they could have reasonably expected out of him, so he would get the arbitration award.

          • Zack

            Where does it state that?

            • Zack

              Nevermind, I found it in an old RAB post.

              • Zack

                Padres used a .225 BA in 40 AB sample size to defend their case against Walker, and they won. If Javy is 2009 Javy in ST, don’t see how the union would win.


                • Clay Bellinger

                  But that’s a big “if”. Javy could come out and throw some decent innings in ST and then they’re stuck with his contract. It’s a big risk that teams typically don’t take.

                  • Zack

                    I disagree on the “big if” part. For Javy for be a capable ML pitcher again he needs to either (a) find his velocity or (b) learn how to pitch with less velocity.

                    That means he’s going to be trying new pitching strategies against live hitters for the first time in ST, against hitters who are notoriously regular-season ready long before pitchers. Not to mention that SP first few starts are 2, 3, 4 IP based on pitch count – and one outing can easily mess up your ERA.

                    • Clay Bellinger

                      Dude, if Javy knows that he has $10+ mil riding on his spring training performance, he’s gonna come into ST with all he’s got.

                      As recently as last July, he pitched 32 innings of 3.34 ERA ball. In ST 2010, he threw 19 innings with an ERA of 4.19 and 18 K’s. No way the Yanks win the case if he does that again. You don’t think he’s capable of putting up a decent 15-20 innings in ST? The whole idea of offering a player arb and then rooting against him is insane and I’m sure it won’t even be considered. Does Cashman sit there pulling for him to get rocked? Do the coaches refuse to help him out? Not to mention, it would be too late to spend the money they would’ve owed him on FA’s at that point.

                • Benjamin Kabak

                  The arbitration hearings are held before Grapefruit League action begins. How he pitches in Spring Training would have no bearing on the case.

                  • Clay Bellinger

                    I don’t think he’s referring to the actual arb hearing, he’s referring to a hypothetical situation where Javy accepted the arb offer and the Yanks cut him during Spring Training due to poor performance as the Padres apparently did with Todd Walker in ’07.

                • Ed

                  Walker hit .285 the year before. A 60 point dropoff in BA is huge. It’s a dropoff from above average to well below average.

                  In Javy’s case, he was already well below average in 2010, so it would be reasonable to expect him to perform similarly in 2011.

                  If you offer a bad player a contract, you can’t get out of it by saying “I didn’t think he would be bad.”

    • steve (different one)

      Yes, but 1/6 of javy’s arb salary would be real money. Gaudin was only making a few million

  • Steve H

    Offer and let him know if he accepts that he’s the new mop up man.

    • matt damon wayans

      This seems likely. Cash could inform Vazquez and his agent that he will not start any games for the Yankees and will not be traded to any East Coast teams.

  • Sexy Man Inc.

    What could 30 days termination pay be? Based on that escape clause and all of the other factors maybe Vazquez does not accept arbitration. If he can get a multi year deal from the Nationals or Marlins why would he accept knowing he will probably get cut before the season? A multi year deal may not be around then. I think it is worth the gamble. I am surprised this was not alluded to in the post.

  • MattG

    Where is this $10m figure coming from? Javy made $11.5 last year, and he didn’t get hurt. That’s a $12.5m award, minimum, in my mind.

    Javy Vazquez should make $16m on the open market, and he probably wants out of NY, so he should decline. But Cashman doesn’t care about what players might or might not do. If he doesn’t want to pay Javy Vazquez $12.5+m in 2011, he won’t offer arbitration.

    The Yankees have shown every ability to get the players they want in the draft no matter when they pick (remember they just passed on Ranuado, Vitek, and others?), so that sandwich round pick holds little value.

    • Benjamin Kabak

      I’m guessing he loses his arbitration case. He declined across the board, and if he didn’t get hurt, that’s a bad sign. That might be a bad assumption on my part though.

      • Ted Nelson

        The part of the equation that your article doesn’t really address is what his market value is. He might want 3 years, but that will take him through his 37 year old season. If his potential 2 year deal is close enough in value to the 10-12.5 mill he might get in arbitration… why not take the one year deal? If MattG’s assumptions are correct, I’d personally take $12.5 mill to pitch one year over 16 mill to pitch 2 years. Less work. Time value of money. Plus, if you want to pitch another season and can get over 3.5 mill to do so, you’ve earned more money overall.

      • Ryan K

        If he accepts arbitration he’s gaurenteed at least 80% of last years salary isn’t he? And guys taking paycuts via arbitration is essentially non existant. Since he’s he wasn’t injured he’d most likely get a raise. If NY offers arbitration it would be in Javy’s best interested to accept. Then he can go to the arbitration table with a 11.5 million dollar bid, which he would surely be a lock to get.

        • Ed

          If he accepts arbitration he’s gaurenteed at least 80% of last years salary isn’t he?

          That only applies to pre-free agency players.

          And guys taking paycuts via arbitration is essentially non existant.

          The pre-free agency arbitration rules are designed to slowly transition players from MLB minimum salaries to free agent salaries. Usually when a paycut is warranted, the player had a huge setback and a non-tender makes more sense.

          Free agents don’t go to arbitration because it almost never makes sense for both sides. Usually the player is looking for a multi-year deal (young stars), the team is ready to move on to a new player (aging former stars), or the player is interchangeable and the team just wants their options open to find the best fit (relievers, average position players).

          Since he’s he wasn’t injured he’d most likely get a raise.

          I don’t think it’s likely at all, but there’s really no precedent to use here.

          If NY offers arbitration it would be in Javy’s best interested to accept.

          Agreed, but only if he’s not getting interest in multi year deals from other teams.

          Then he can go to the arbitration table with a 11.5 million dollar bid, which he would surely be a lock to get.

          Doubtful. The Dodgers just signed Kuroda for $12/1 and Lilly for $33/3. Both had far better years than Vazquez, and the Yankees would immediately bring those up as comparison points, claiming that Vazquez is worth much less than them.

          The team could offer Jon Garland’s 2010 salary of $5.3m and argue that it was generous, as Garland was coming off a season much better than Vazquez is coming off.

          • JAG

            Agreed, especially since the Garland comparison allows them to offer $8MM and still argue that that is a generous award.

  • chris

    The pick is important. Especially if they end up getting Lee. Plus if Javy comes back he could be traded to a team in the NL who wants him and is willing to give up players for him. I think its a win win.

    • Slugger27

      we wouldn’t get anything back for him trade value wise. if he were to hypothetically accept arb, he’d be making north of 10M, which means he wouldn’t be a bargain. it would strictly be a salary dump trade, no good prospects back.

      besides, id imagine with how little leverage we have, that we would still have to eat some of the salary to move him.

      • Ted Nelson

        Yeah, if he accepts arb it means his market value was significantly lower than $10 mill… to the point where he’d rather get 1 year at 10 than 2 or 3 years at whatever was offered. That means no team is likely to trade for him even as a salary dump. The Yankees would have to chip in a few mill, basically buying that sandwich round pick. It’s their money, so it’s their call. I’d like to know what kind of numbers Washington and Florida are throwing around before deciding.

        • Ted Nelson

          And I’m not necessarily saying buying a pick is a bad idea… It’s risky, of course, but you buy the next Joba type sandwich pick and it’s probably a great move.

          • Ted Nelson

            Not that it would be literally a sandwich pick, but a prospect in-place of the pick.

      • J

        We could eat half the salary. I think Javier Vazquez on a one year/5mil deal could net a good prospect or two in return. Remember, he’s dominated the NL.

        • Ted Nelson

          Is $5 mill worth a prospect, though? I guess it all depends what prospect.

          I doubt any team is willing to bank on Javy returning to 09 form… It’s not that he faced better hitters in the AL, his stuff literally declined. Maybe he bounces back, maybe not. I doubt a team will risk a too hot a prospect on the prospect of a 35 year old bouncing back.

  • Ted Nelson

    I don’t know that it’s such a forgone conclusion that he declines. It all comes down to his market value. He’s going to be 35 next season and it’s tough to say whether he had a dead arm or his arm is just shot.

    And if his market value is low enough that he accepts, who is going to trade for Javy Vazquez?

    • Clay Bellinger

      Not only is it not a forgone conclusion, I think that he’d be likely to accept the arb offer. How can he pass up that kinda money?

      I’m sure there would be teams interested in trading for him, but not for anywhere near $10+ mil.

  • Bill O.

    Risk not worth the reward. Cashman shouldn’t (and won’t) offer arbitration. The Yankees will make up for lack of higher round draft picks by handing out bigger bonuses to lower round draft picks.

    Obviously getting an extra sandwich pick is very nice, but its not worth risking having 10M+ in virtual dead weight. As is the Yankees will have to increase payroll to bring in a starter like Cliff Lee and bring back the team’s own key free agents. Cashman won’t gamble this kind of money on Javy declining arbitration.

  • Klemy

    I still don’t think I’d offer arbitration. I just feel like the $10 million would be too much to turn down, unless he really thinks he has enough left in his arm to show he has value. Just too much possibility that he accepts in my mind.

    How crazy is it that Javy might be able to get to sign for $6 million plus a year for 2 years and Adam Wainwright made about $4.75 million with his CY Young voting bonus in 2010? Obviously different circumstances and all, but…

  • mike c

    good god please no

  • MikeD

    Javy made $11.5 million last year and has made at least that much for the past six years. The arbitration process will not award him a pay decrease and if Javy’s agents submitted a number lower than $11.5 it won’t be by much. The Yankees know this process, too, so they would have to offer $10 million or more. That means, win or lose, Javy will cost the Yankees somewhere between $10 million and $11.5 million.

    On the open market, with his diminished fastball, I don’t see Javy getting more than $3-4 million. Maybe $5 million if some team really thinks he can regain his velocity and will take a shot. He’ll make more than double that in arbitration with the Yankees, who would most likely have to turn around and trade him and throw money in. Javy’s agents will know this. They will accept arbitration.

    It’s the same problem with Berkman, who seems to have more to offer than Vazquez. Yet if the Yankees offer arbitration, he will get somewhere around $15 million, while on the open market he also won’t get more than $5 million. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table, and players know they have a limited time to make money. Berkman would also accept.

    Way too risky on the Yankees part. Pass.

  • Sexy Man Inc.

    I am firmly in the do not offer arbitration camp after learning of the good faith clause.

  • chris

    I don’t think Javy was as bad as Burnett last year either. There was a stretch in June/July where Javy was carrying his weight. AJ was 10-15….thats hard to do as a Yankee. If they start the season with Javy at 10 mill you could certainly trade him to Florida, San Fran, the Brewers or even the Cubs. There are teams that will move on him for a guy who was one year removed from almost winning a cy young. I would think the level of prospect would be dependant on how much money the Yanks eat. 5 mill probably gets them a B level infield player.