How Should the New York Yankees Handle Arbitration with Deadline Approaching?

GregCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2009

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 06:  Johnny Damon #18 of the New York Yankees waves to the crowd during the New York Yankees World Series Victory Celebration at City Hall on November 6, 2009 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The arbitration deadline is midnight, so every team has to decide which players it will offer arbitration to and which it won't. It is an interesting day because it hints at what the team's offseason plans are.

I touched on this back in October but have since changed my mind. I predicted that the Yankees would offer Andy Pettitte arbitration, but not Johnny Damon.

There was only a month of baseball after I wrote this, so nothing should have changed, but there are some things that have come up that have led me to think differently.

Johnny Damon, Type-A

Johnny Damon made $13 million in 2009 and put together quite an offensive season. Arbitration committees tend to like things like home runs and RBI while seemingly ignoring equally important things like defense.

If the Yankees went to arbitration with Damon, it is likely he would receive a one-year contract in the neighborhood of $15 million. Boras said that Damon would use Bobby Abreu's two-year, $19 million contract as a guideline for Damon, and that seems fair to me.

Paying Damon $15 million for one season in this market seems like a giant overpay to me, and that's why I don't think the Yankees will offer him arbitration. The lure of an extra first round pick and a compensation pick is tempting, but the market dictates that Damon shouldn't get $15 million, so it would be hard to see him turning down an arbitration offer.

Andy Pettitte, Type B

Back in October, I figured the Yankees should offer Pettitte arbitration. I'm still for this move, as there are much worse things than having a No. 3 starter on a one-year deal at $11-12 million.

However, I'm not close enough to the situation to know what is going on here. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Pettitte has said that he would only come back to the Yankees in 2010.

I don't think the Yankees will offer Pettitte arbitration, but I'm not sure they have the leverage to bring him back on an incentive-laden deal at this point. I think offering Pettitte arbitration is the safe bet. If he comes back, you're paying him a fair rate. If not, and he signs with another team, at least the Yankees net a draft pick. 

Hideki Matsui, Not Rated

The Yankees obviously won't offer Matsui arbitration, but I just wanted to touch on Matsui anyway. The other day, Buster Olney tweeted, "Heard this: Matsui's attraction as a marketable asset is no factor for the Yankees. It is about getting the right player at the right price." I believe that the Yankees wouldn't get someone solely because of their marketability, because they are focused on winning.

Would signing Matsui prevent them from winning? I don't think so. Second to winning, it always has been, and always will be, the money. The right price for Matsui is a totally different animal than the right price for a different DH.

If the Yankees had to throw Matsui a few extra million bucks over a guy who would produce the same offense, it would absolutely be worth it. Aging designated hitters aren't in demand right now, so Matsui should come at a heavily discounted rate from his previous contract.

The reason, in the end, that Matsui will be back is the money.

So there you go. My guess is that the Yankees don't offer anyone arbitration. I think offering Pettitte arbitration would be the right call, but I don't think it is that important. We'll find out soon enough, and I look forward to finding out what the Yankees are thinking.


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