The deadline to file for free agency in the MLB was November 19. At that point, 171 players had filed. Teams had until midnight last night to offer arbitration to the players who had filed for free agency and most recently played a professional season for that particular team. Out of the 171 players who filed for free agency, only 23 of them were offered arbitration by the deadline. Now, those 23 players will have until midnight on December 7 (Monday) to accept the offer of arbitration or decline it and enter the free agent market. Just because a player accepts arbitration does not mean that he will necessarily make it all the way to an arbitration hearing. In fact, the hearings are quite rare. Most players and teams who accept arbitration actually come to a deal before it ever gets to a formal hearing. This avoids the cost of preparing for arbitration and the uncomfortable setting the hearing produces (players do not want to hear about all of their flaws…they’re invincible, right?). It also prevents an “un-biased” third-party arbitrator from picking one figure presented. Baseball uses a system called Final Offer Arbitration, which means that the arbitrator must pick either the offer submitted by the team or the offer submitted by the player. There is no room to make a judgment somewhere in the middle.
In 2008, 24 players were offered arbitration. This year’s landscape is quite similar, with 23 players receiving offers. 10 of the players are Type A free agents and 13 are Type B.
Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse describes what the Type distinctions mean in a succinct manner.
If a team signs a Type A free agent, its first-round pick goes to the former team — unless that pick is in the top 15, in which case a second-round pick goes to the former team. The former team also gets an extra pick between the first and second rounds.
If a team loses a Type B free agent, it gets an extra “sandwich” pick.
One more thing to add: The team that signs a Type B free agent does not lose a pick, whereas if that same team signed a Type A free agent, the team would lose a pick as stated above.