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by alex ciepley
December 7th is D-Day for offering arbitration to your team's free agents. The benefits of offering arbitration: your team will receive compensatory draft picks if another team signs the player. The drawback: you may be in for an expensive payday if the player accepts arbitration.
I've been a flip-flopper over whether or not the Cubs should offer Matt Clement arbitration, but I think this article in the Toronto Globe and Mail seals the deal. The Cubs should offer. Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi is one of the stingiest GMs when it comes to giving up draft picks to sign a free agent. If he's considering it a worthy tradeoff, you gotta offer Mattie arbitration.
What's the worst-case scenario? Matt decides to accept, and we have him pitching for the Cubs for one more year? Clement is an excellent pitcher, not dead weight. Unless a player's arbitration winnings would so obviously wreck the budget that it makes the risk of him accepting untenable, I think you should offer your good players arbitration and hope to snatch up draft picks.
My current list of who should and shouldn't be offered arbitration is below. Of course, if any of the players below signs with another team before December 7th, then the Cubs will obviously offer them arbitration if it means free draft picks. Free Draft Picks!
Matt Clement - It seems extremely likely he will be offered several tasty multi-year contracts, minimizing the Cubs' risk. If Toronto's attitude is reflective of the industry, perhaps he'll even be signed in the next week or two, making this an easy offer.
Nomar Garciaparra - You offer Nomar arbitration, because the worst thing that could happen is that Nomar Garciaparra is your shortstop next year. That's not a worst-case scenario, that's a good scenario.
Glendon Rusch - It looks like he'll be re-signed, so there would be no need for arbitration.
Todd Walker - Walker would not be particularly expensive even if he accepted, he would be a solid choice for the starting second base job, and he would garner a first-round pick if he signed with another team.
MAYBES Kent Mercker - I just don't have a good read on Mercker's value to GMs. If it appears there is significant interest, you offer him arbitration. He's a Type A free agent, meaning he'd gift the Cubs with a first round pick and a supplementary first round pick. That's a manageable risk, I think.
Ben Grieve or Todd Hollandsworth - Either Grieve or Hollandsworth could be offered arbitration if the Cubs were sure that they could sign their choice before it reached the courts. In this case, you wouldn't offer them arbitration to get draft picks (though I think Grieve would snatch a second-round supplementary pick) but to extend the time you have to negotiate with the player. This also assumes that you want one of the two players back. I prefer Grieve, though I think you could make a decent case for either or neither.
SHOULD NOTS Moises Alou - He'd be way too expensive. Hopefully a team like the Giants will sign Alou before the arbitration deadline, because Alou, like, Mercker, is a Type A free agent. Free Draft Picks!
Paul Bako - Offering Bako arbitration wouldn't do anything except extend the time the Cubs have to offer him a contract. I don't want the Cubs to even consider offering him a contract, so I say poo on offering him arbitration.
Tom Goodwin - See Paul Bako's comments, put upgrade the word "poo" to a more saucy explicative.
Mark Grudzielanek - Another Type A, but another gamble that's not worth it. If you decline Grudzielanek's $2.5M option because you think it's too much money, you don't risk an even bigger payday by offering arbitration.