As I do every day, I was reading Buster Olney's daily column. In this particular column (sorry, behind the insider wall), he was discussing Type-A free agents and whether or not they would be offered arbitration. The Yankees had two players, Damon and Pettitte, on the list and I was interested to see what the executives Buster polled had to say about them. I was very surprised with their answers, to say the least. Here is what he had to say on Pettitte:
Andy Pettitte, Yankees: He will earn about $10.5 million in salary, roster bonuses, and performances bonuses this season. Three predict that he will be offered arbitration, three say no. "They weren't willing to offer this to him last year, so why would they this year?" asked one official rhetorically. Here's one reason the Yankees likely will: He has thrown the ball better this season, and is 14-7 with a 4.11 ERA.
That executive's rhetorical question struck me. The two situations are totally different. Sorry to steal the tagline from another blog, but I would love to tell that executive, "It's about the money, stupid!" Of course the Yankees didn't offer Pettitte arbitration last season. He had just been paid $16 million, and would have gotten a slight raise on top of that.
Does this "executive" fail to realize that offering a player arbitration after earning $10 million is a whole different story than one making $16 million? I fully expect the Yankees to offer Pettitte arbitration. I'm sure he would accept and then work a deal out with the Yankees. If he shockingly decides to go elsewhere, the Yankees will receive two draft picks in return.
Let's see what they had to say about Johnny Damon:
Johnny Damon, Yankees: He is making $13 million in salary. All who were asked expect the Yankees to offer him arbitration, and they think it'll affect Damon's market value. "They'd love to have him back on a one-year deal," said an AL GM. "If he accepts, they'll live with the $13-15 million salary."
Huh? Did these guys witness the 2009 offseason? The market has changed, teams have realized defense counts. These aging, all-hit, no-field corner outfielders aren't getting the contracts they used to. Paying Johnny Damon $15 million would be a gross overpayment in this market.
Just because the Yankees can afford to overpay players doesn't mean they should or will. I don't see Damon getting more than $10 million, so I would be shocked to see the Yankees offering him arbitration. I think the Yanks will bring him back, but not at an absurd price.
Okay, now don't get me wrong; I could be the one who is way off-base here. I mean, these guys are team executives. They should have a better sense of these things than I do, but I'm willing to bet that they are wrong in this case. We'll have to wait and see how it turns out, but I fully expect the Yankees to offer Pettitte arbitration while not offering it to Damon.