Now that you are all prepped for next week’s Rule 5 Draft, let’s discuss what recently transpired between arbitration eligible players and their teams. This year, 27 players were offered arbitration (4 more than last year), and only 2 players accepted (1 less than last year). Last year’s players to accept were Rafael Betancourt, Rafael Soriano, and Carl Pavano. This year, the two players to accept were relief pitchers Frank Francisco (Rangers) and Jason Frasor (Blue Jays). They were both labeled Type A free agents.
There is nothing shocking about the low number of acceptances nor the fact that both acceptances came from relievers. Historically, most arbitration eligible players decide to test the market, and those who choose arbitration over free agency are often the coveted relief pitchers, as the risk of hitting the free agent market may not justify the potential reward of a nice offer. It is doubtful that had Francisco and/or Frasor declined arbitration, we would be oohing and aahing at the record breaking contracts they ended up signing. Instead, it is likely that they will earn more through arbitration than they had if they offered themselves up on the free market.
The fact that Francisco and Frasor were designated Type A would also not help in their free agent campaigns. A team that signed a Type A free agent must give up a draft pick to the player’s former team. Depending on how the signing team fared the previous season, they might have to give up their first round or second round pick. However, if a team was interested in either Francisco or Frasor and signed another Type A player, signing one of the aforementioned names would not affect the signing team’s number of draft picks.