The latest arbitration offer news has gone down: the Red Sox have offered salary arbitration to Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre and Felipe Lopez, and declined arbitration to Mike Lowell, Bill Hall and Jason Varitek.
None of these are shocking. Obviously they were going to offer it to Martinez, who is all but signed by the Tigers now. Beltre was a no-brainer too, because whether he stays or goes, he’s not going to go through an arbitration proceeding. It will be because he signs a fat free agent contract someplace. Felipe Lopez is a tactical offering, I’m guessing, most likely predicated by an agreement between him and the team that he would decline such an offer so that the Red Sox could get the sandwich pick. I’m not sure what Lopez gets in exchange, but isn’t it the case that (a) the Sox don’t want to keep Lopez around; and (b) without some agreement, Lopez would jump on it? I don’t know. Maybe they figure he’s worth the risk at $1 million or whatever he made last year and really find sandwich picks to be yummy. Mmmmm . . . sandwiches . . .
The declines make sense too. Mike Lowell is done playing baseball. Bill Hall was making a lot of money — $9 million — so an arbitration offer to him makes so sense, as he’s due way less than that as a free agent. Varitek is no longer in the Red Sox’ plans.
Teams still have until midnight to offer arbitration to their free agents.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.
The Red Sox are expecting to go to an arbitration hearing with left-handed reliever Fernando Abad, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski said there was a “decent chance” a hearing would be necessary after countering Abad’s $2.7 million request with $2 million.
Abad, 31, pitched just 12 2/3 innings for Boston after the club acquired him from Minnesota at the trade deadline last season. The lefty earned a cumulative 3.66 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.9 SO/9 for the two teams in 2016. He received $1.25 million in 2016 and will remain under club control (through arbitration) in 2017. A $2.7 million salary would be a hefty increase for the veteran reliever, who has seen a significant decline since he put up a 1.57 ERA for the Athletics in 2014 and who has not amassed more than 0.6 fWAR in any single season to date.
While the Red Sox aren’t close to settling with Abad, Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports that they may be closing in on a settlement with left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz. Pomeranz filed at $5.7 million, while the Sox felt more comfortable at $3.6 million. The two are expected to meet somewhere in the middle to avoid an arbitration hearing later this winter.