Hard to believe it is the last day of November already. At the moment, all is quiet on the free agent front, but tomorrow is an interesting day around the majors, as it is the last day for teams to offer arbitration to their free agent players. As of midnight tomorrow, the Phillies might not have to worry about "Type A" and "Type B" designations on some of the players they are targeting.
A quick recap of the system: Free agents are divided into three categories based on a complicated system that rates them based on their performance over the last couple of seasons. The first is "Type A" free agents, who are supposed to be the best of the bunch. Any team that signs a Type A free agent has to send a draft pick, usually its first rounder, to the player's former club. In addition, MLB gives the player's former club another draft pick in the supplemental round (between the first and the second).
A "Type B" free agent is similar in that a team that loses a "Type B" free agent receives a supplemental draft pick. But that draft pick comes from MLB, not the team that signs the free agent. So if the Phillies signs a Type A free agent, they must part with their first-round pick. If they sign a Type B free agent, they don't have to part with any picks. But if one of their Type B free agents signs elsewhere, they would receive a supplemental pick.
But wait, there's more. . .
In order for a team to be eligible to receive draft picks as compensation for losing a Type A or B free agent, they must offer him arbitration by midnight tomorrow. This, of course, carries with it the risk of that player accepting, which suddenly leaves their 2010 salary in the hands of an arbitrator. The Phillies declined to offer arbitration to Type A free agents Pat Burrell and Jamie Moyer last year, because there was a good chance that both players would have accepted.
This year, the stakes are considerably less. Scott Eyre and Chan Ho Park are both Type B free agents. The rest of the team's free agents are unclassified.
I would assume that the Phillies would offer Park arbitration. They have made it clear that they want to re-sign him. He made $2.5 million last season, and it would seem unlikely that he would accept arbitration. Even if he did accept the Phillies' offer, it is unlikely that the process would end up saddling them with an undesireable salary.
The real fun begins on Dec. 12, which is the last day teams can offer contracts to their non-free-agents. It is at that point when the Phillies will have to make their intentions known with regards to their arbitration eligible players. The most interesting case in that group is Chad Durbin, who at five-plus years of service and a $1.635 million salary will be in line for a decent raise. Thus, the Phillies could decide against offering him arbitration, thereby making him a free agent. The Phillies have given no indication that they are contemplating non-tendering Joe Blanton, but at five-plus years of service and a resume that is comparable to players who have been awarded upwards of $7 million in the past, he is worth mentioning.
Carlos Ruiz and Shane Victorino are both no-brainers to be offered contracts.
On Dec. 12, a flood of new free agents who have been non-tendered could enter the marketplace. Durbin himself was a non-tender when the Phillies signed him for $900,000 prior to the 2008 season.