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St. Louis Cardinals arbitration offer predictions

A number of significant changes simplifying Major League Baseball’s free agent compensation rules have been announced as part of the new 2012-2016 Collective Bargaining Agreement between players and owners.

Because these changes do not fully take effect until this coming fall, the Lords of Baseball agreed on interim terms that impact a handful members of this year’s free agent class. (FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal has all the details.)

As a result, the St. Louis Cardinals look to be short-term winners, at least on a small scale.

Five of the club’s eight major league free agents were deemed compensation-eligible by the two-year Elias Rankings that will be eliminated after this year. They are first baseman Albert Pujols (Type A), shortstop Rafael Furcal and pitchers Octavio Dotel, Edwin Jackson and Arthur Rhodes (all Type B*).

The Cardinals must make an offer of arbitration for a one-year contract to these players* by midnight tonight, Wednesday, November 23, or they will be ineligible to receive compensation if the players sign elsewhere.

Pujols’ case is easy to predict. The Cardinals will offer arbitration because Pujols would never accept a one-year deal at this point. Of course, the organization hopes the two compensatory picks associated with the offer will not come into play and he re-signs with them.

My suspicion is that neither Furcal, Jackson nor Rhodes will be offered.

The two-year, $10.5 million contract that shortstop Clint Barmes received from the Pirates could signal that Furcal has an opportunity to do much better elsewhere. Despite the Cards wanting him back, I doubt they would risk going to an arbitration hearing.

Jackson, a Scott Boras client, may receive a Kyle Lohse-type of contract from some pitching-hungry club. While the Cardinals could likely pick up a comp pick by offering, in the past they have not made offers to players they do not want to bring back. That seems to be the case here. It has nothing to do with Jackson’s skills. With the Cardinals’ 2012 rotation already set and a lot of money committed to them, there seems no room at the inn for him.

Rhodes is 42 years of age. Hopefully, the 2012 Cardinals will look in another direction.

* That leaves the interesting case of Dotel. Originally, he was named a Type A free agent, which restricted his appeal to other clubs, since they would lose their first- or second-round pick by signing him. It was a high price for a reliever.

That changed this week. The special interim rules just enacted freed a small group of relief pitchers, including Dotel. He is among those immediately moved to Type B, but the Cardinals actually benefit by being assured of a compensation pick between the first and second rounds if/when Dotel signs with another club for 2012.

The team lost the chance for two picks (which they were very unlikely to chase, anyway) and get one without having to take action. The player benefits as a new prospective team will not lose a high selection by signing him.

With a draft pick essentially already in hand, the Cardinals have no reason to make Dotel an offer of arbitration. Further, with younger and cheaper right-handed relief alternatives in house, I predict they will not bring him back in 2012.

At the bottom line, there are three possible cases based on my predictions:

1) If Pujols and Dotel re-sign with the Cardinals, the club will receive no extra picks.

2) If Pujols re-signs, the Cardinals would gain one compensation pick from the loss of Dotel. This is my most likely scenario.

3) If neither re-sign with St. Louis, the Cards would pick up a first- or second-round pick plus two compensation selections in the 2012 draft.

Update: The Cardinals’ arbitration offer decisions are outlined at

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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22 Responses to “St. Louis Cardinals arbitration offer predictions”

  1. Brian Walton says:

    For those who might question my prediction on Jackson, it could go either way. The Cards’ recent history with offering to starters is mixed. They did with Type A’s Pineiro, Suppan and Morris, but did not with Type B’s Marquis, Weaver and Looper.

  2. blingboy says:

    It seems like it would be fairly easy to trade Jackson if he was only on a one year contract, even if the salary was rather high. So we might go ahead and offer.

  3. easy says:

    I would think that Jackson could get multi year contract offers similar to Lohse’s from several teams. Given that I can’t see him accepting arbitration even if it’s for a higher one season salary.
    The one confounding aspect of all of this is that the Cardinals’ decisions on arbitration have never made sense to me in the past so they probably won’t now.

  4. Brian Walton says:

    The Cards offered both Pujols and Jackson and declined on Rhodes and Furcal.

  5. JumboShrimp says:

    In 2006, Jocketty passed on arbitration to Weaver and Marquis, who landed 2 and 3 year deals elsewhere. This was during a time of numerous disagreements within the front office, with Walt gone within a year. When Looper left, Braden was not a prime free agent; it took him a while to land a one year deal with the Brewers, IIRC. Passing on Looper made sense.
    However, Jackson is entering free agency at a young age. He should land a multi-year, pricey contract, like Suppan, Morris, and Pineiro. It would have been a mistake if Mo had not offered Jackson arbitration, happily Mo sidestepped this pitfall.

    Furcal just ended a big contract ($11MM/yr). It might be uncertain how much money an arbitrator would award Furcal. It may be best not to find out. We can still negotiate with Furcal, outside of arbitration.
    Same with Rhodes. Matheny might like to have a player who is older, to help him feel young.

  6. Jmodene says:

    I’d still like to have Dotel back. He was absolutely lights-out in the postseason. And remember, “younger and cheaper” doesn’t necessarily mean “better”. With a bullpen full of younger guys (Motte, Lynn, Sanchez, Salas, etc.) I’d still like to have at least one veteran guy out there, and Dotel seemed to be a good fit.

    It depends, of course, on the money – he made $3.5MM in 2011, and letting him go means maybe we can bring him back for around $1.75MM (which, when added to the $750K we had to pay him when we declined his 2012 option) would save us a million from his 2011 salary.

    McClellan, OTOH, will amost certainly be non-tendered, and could catch on somewhere as a fourth- or fifth-starter, which leaves a spot open for a guy like Dotel while still allowing us to keep most of the kids.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Dotel was a great fit. Its good to have a couple of seasoned vets in the pen.
      I am unsure about non tendering McClellan. He used to be very good as a reliever. Tough to surrender his rights before it is proven he cannot return successfully to relief.

    • ball in play says:

      of the arb players theriot stands the biggest chance of not being on the 2012 roster, then skip, then kmac. all could be trade bait.

  7. Brian Walton says:

    My assumption with Dotel, like so many other Cardinals free agents in the past, is that another club will offer more years/money and as a result, he will leave.

  8. easy says:

    And, I think, that’s okay. Octavio did a great job down the stretch and I think he has another worthwhile year or two in him. He would, however, probably be the most expensive arm in a bullpen flush with good young righthanders. I think we’ve been given a gift by his redesignation and it’s a good deal to accept the supplemental choice.

  9. JumboShrimp says:

    Mo is going to want to add a lefty reliever. Last winter’s smart idea was Tallet coming off a bad year with the Jays, but he did not rebound for the Cards in 2011 and had to be carted back to Toronto. With a second good lefty, Matheny could look like a genius.

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