With Tuesday’s night’s deadline whether or not to offer arbitration to four Type A and B free agents looming, the St. Louis Cardinals have disclosed their decision. They have offered arbitration to outfielder Matt Holliday, pitcher Joel Pineiro and third baseman Mark DeRosa but declined to make an offer to third baseman Troy Glaus.
If all four players sign elsewhere, the Cardinals will receive two compensatory 2010 draft picks for Holliday and one each for Pineiro and DeRosa. By declining, they passed up one potential selection for Glaus, whose Cardinals career officially ends after two seasons.
The offers come with risk, as the players could accept. In that case, if the Cardinals cannot come to agreement with the player first, they would be bound to pay a one-year amount for a 2010 contract decided by an arbitration panel in February.
Apparently the potential gain in draft picks to help replenish a farm system depleted by the trades for Holliday and DeRosa outweighed that risk. Another alternative could be a plan to pursue a Type A free agent other than Holliday or perhaps both.
The Holliday and Glaus arbitration offer decisions were expected, while the DeRosa and Pineiro ones were less clear. In fact, based on past behavior, I had predicted the Cardinals would be risk-averse and not offer the latter two.
Until December 7, all three players have the right to accept the Cardinals’ offer. Each is expected to decline. The chances of Holliday settling for a one-year deal seem especially small when he may instead fetch as many as six years and over $100 million on the open market. The others can likely also secure handsome multi-year deals with other clubs.
In terms of investment loss, DeRosa’s situation would have been the more painful as the Cardinals yielded two top prospects in trade for him this past summer, pitchers Chris Perez and Jess Todd. On the other hand, Pineiro was a scrap-heap reclamation project that cost a lower-level prospect only, so getting a draft pick between the first and second rounds for him is a decent return.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog.
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