Players with between almost three and less than six years of Major League service time are eligible to have their salaries for the next season decided through an arbitration process as defined in the labor agreement between players and owners.
Before this gets underway, clubs have a decision to make. Teams must specifically decide if they want enter the process by an annual deadline. The alternative is that the player will be granted free agency. This year’s cutoff is midnight Eastern time tonight, Monday, December 12.
The St. Louis Cardinals have four eligible players, pitchers Kyle McClellan and Jason Motte and infielders Skip Schumaker and Ryan Theriot. Each of them might make in the $2-$4 million range next season.
In the polls below, please specify what you think the Cardinals should do. Should they offer contracts to none, all four or something in between?
Further, should the money not spent on Albert Pujols affect the Cardinals’ arbitration decisions on these four? In other words, should the Cardinals be willing to risk spending more on these players because they no longer have Pujols, or do you consider the two to be separate?
What happens next?
If the club agrees by “tendering a contract” by the deadline, the player and team are bound together for the upcoming season. They can either negotiate a contract at any time or participate in an arbitration hearing to be scheduled in February. Each side submits in advance the salary level it believes is fair. If it reaches the hearing stage, one of the two submitted contract amounts will be decided upon by the arbitrators after hearing each side’s case.
If the player is “non-tendered,” he becomes a free agent, eligible to sell his services on the open market to any club, including the Cardinals.