Brewers made somewhat of a risky move when they offered K Rod arbitration; he made $11.5 million dollars and even though he was a set up man, he pitched will and is likely to get a raise to somewhere between $13 million and $14 million.
By rule, he has to make at least 80% of what he made last year; that would be $9.2 million. I do not see Brewers risking actually offering him a lower salary because the way it works is the player and the team both submit a salary offer for a new contract; the arbitrator chooses one number or the other – he/she can not pick a number in the middle. If Brewers offer too low of a number, the arbitrator will certainly pick K Rods number.
I do not know what the arbitrator guidelines are, but I do not think that he/she will take into consideration that K Rod is no longer closing; I am fairly certain that the arbitrator will simply evaluate him as a reliever – a premiere at that.
K Rod had a 1.86 ERA fro the Brew Crew (2.64 overall) and a 1.80 ERA in the post season. Given his track record he has to be considered an elite pitcher. If a almost over the hill Joe Nathan got $7 million (for 2 years), not as elite Papelbon got $12.5 million (for 3 years), and the immortal Mariano Rivera makes $15 million (for 3 years), the single season saves leader coming off a good year will certainly get $13 million for one year.
So if you are K Rod, how comfortable are you that you will get a contract that tops $13 million?
My guess is that K Rod calls the Brewers’ bluff (not really a bluff, but an attempt to get extra draft picks) and accepts arbitration. This will leave the Brew Crew in a bind forcing them to make a trade; to say… Boston?. This is where Boras will work his magic and work in an extension.
Players have until 11:59 pm ET on December 7th to accept arbitration.
This may be why Boston has not been linked to any rumors regarding any closers; after losing Papelbon – isn’t that odd? Yes they just hired a manager, but ordinarily that does not preclude player transactions for critical roles as a closer.
Boston may be thinking, “if I sign K Rod now, I have to negotiate and loose draft picks, but if he accepts arbitration, I can keep my draft picks, give up a non-prospect of my choice and let an arbitrator set the price so I don’t have to tangle w/ Boras.”