Is it time to do something about “gentleman’s agreements” free agents make to decline arbitration?

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Just like the Yankees and Javier Vazquez, the Brewers and Trevor Hoffman came to a “gentleman’s agreement” that Hoffman will decline what at first glance appeared to be a shocking arbitration offer.

Hoffman made $7.5 million this season and under normal circumstances the Brewers offering him arbitration would essentially be like putting a one-year, $7.5 million deal on the table.

However, because Hoffman has already agreed to decline the arbitration offer there’s no risk of that for the Brewers and instead they’ll basically just get a free second-round draft pick should he sign elsewhere.

Vazquez and the Yankees reached the same type of agreement yesterday and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com speculates that Orlando Hudson and the Twins have as well.

All three players are Type B free agents, so the agreements don’t change the fact that teams signing them can do so without forfeiting draft picks. Instead the only change is that their old teams can get the benefit of a compensatory draft pick without having to take the risk of truly offering arbitration. It’s definitely gaming the system and with at least two and possibly three or more cases this offseason it seems likely that MLB will (or at least should) attempt to close the loophole somehow going forward.

Mets sign Jose Lobaton to minor league deal

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The Mets signed catcher Jose Lobaton to a minor league contract, the team announced Friday. The deal includes an invitation to spring training, where it’s assumed Lobaton will be in the mix for a backup role behind Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.

Lobaton, 33, is coming off of a four-year stint with the Nationals. He put up his worst career numbers in 2017, producing -0.6 fWAR after slashing just .170/.248/.277 with four home runs in 158 plate appearances. While he’ll give the Mets little to work with at the plate, his near-decade of experience behind the dish should make him a decent emergency option, if nothing else.

In the meantime, the Mets are expected to roll with a d’Arnaud/Plawecki platoon to start the season. Both catchers saw slight upticks in value over the 2017 season: d’Arnaud turned in 0.8 fWAR after hitting a career-high 16 home runs, while Plawecki collected 0.6 fWAR and three homers after raising his batting line over the Mendoza Line for the first time since 2015.