UPDATE, 4:21 p.m. -- As expected, the Phillies have tendered contracts to both Ben Francisco and Kyle Kendrick, meaning both will get to work out deals with the club or have their salary decided by an arbitration panel.
Nine years ago today, Enron filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection, capping one of the most prodigious falls in American corporate history, not to mention forcing the Astros to change their stadium name from the Paper Shredder to the Juice Box. A decade later, Enron Field is nothing but a memory, and business is pretty damn good in baseball. That really has nothing to do with what you are about to read, but whatever. . .
Today is the non-tender deadline in major league baseball, meaning teams must offer contracts to their arbitration-eligible players by midnight, or those players will become free agents.
The Phillies only have two such players -- right fielder Ben Francisco and righthander Kyle Kendrick -- and neither are strong candidates to be non-tendered. The Phils could theoretically save some money -- maybe a couple million bucks -- by non-tendering Kendrick. But the starting pitching market is really weak this year, and $2 million or whatever Kendrick would make through arbitration really isn't a horrible price to pay for pitching depth, even if the Phils anticipate Vance Worley pushing Kendrick for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
Francisco, meanwhile, could see his playing time increase next season if Jayson Werth ends up signing elsewhere. Francisco has just 301 plate appearances since joining the Phillies in the Cliff Lee trade in July of 2009. But he has posted decent numbers when called upon: .272/.323/.471, .794 OPS, 9/13 stolen bases, 41 RBI. He also hit lefties very well last season, posting a .901 OPS with six home run in 96 plate appearances.
Assuming they are tendered today, Francisco and Kendrick would not find out their 2011 salaries until somtime after Jan. 5, when the arbitration filing period begins.
Jayson Werth has already been offered arbitration, and he has declined, meaning the Phillies will be able to recoup a couple of draft picks -- likely a pick in the first round and one in the supplemental round, which falls between the first and second round -- if Werth signs elsewhere.
It's better than nothing, of course. But the package really isn't as sexy as it sounds.
Granted, there are some big names who have been drafted with free agent compensation picks. Among them: Adam Wainwright, Jacoby Ellsbury, David Wright, Chris Coghlan, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes.
But they are the exceptions.
Of the 56 first-round compensation picks between 1999-2007, 32 ended up making the major leagues, and three went on to become All-Stars.
Of the 140 supplemental-round compensation picks during that same time period, 61 played in the majors and four became All-Stars.
For every Jacoby Ellsbury and Kyle Drabek there is a Billy Traber and Chris Bootcheck.
Add another left-handed reliever to the already bustling market. According to Gordon Edes of ESPN, the Red Sox will not offer a contract to Hideki Okajima, who struggled last year after three strong seasons in Boston.
From 2007-09, Okajima averaged 66 appearances per season with a 2.72 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and 0.9 HR/9. Last year, he appeared in 56 games, posting a 4.50 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9.
Righties killed him last season (.936 OPS, 4 home runs in 100 at-bats), but he wasn't exactly dominant against lefties, who hit .284/.357/.375 with two home runs and a .732 OPS in 88 at-bats. That's a far cry from the previous three seasons, when lefties managed a .467 OPS in 2009, .547 OPS in 2008 and .648 OPS in 2007.
Okajima, who turns 35 on Dec. 25, earned a base salary of $2.75 million last season.
The Phillies have had reported interest in Reds lefty Arthur Rhodes and Mets lefties Pedro Feliciano and Hisanori Takahashi. Lefty Scott Downs was offered arbitration by the Blue Jays, making him an unlikely candidate since the Phils would have to part with a first-round draft pick. Two other right-handed relievers accepted arbitration: Rangers set-up man Frank Francisco and the Blue Jays' Jason Frasor.