Trevor Hoffman told Adam McCalvy of MLB.com that he’s leaning toward wanting to continue pitching in 2011, but McCalvy writes that “the offers are sparse” for the all-time saves leader after he struggled in 2010.
With a 2-7 record and 5.89 ERA in 47 innings Hoffman’s overall numbers were ugly, but he bounced back from a brutal first two months to post a 2.67 ERA, .218 opponents’ batting average, and 20/9 K/BB ratio in 30 innings over his final 32 appearances. And he’s just one season removed from saving 37 games with a 1.83 ERA.
Hoffman told McCalvy that had some conversations with the Diamondbacks early in the offseason, but that window closed when they signed J.J. Putz:
Arizona got hot there for a little bit, but that closed when J.J. signed. It seemed like a pretty good opportunity. I haven’t come to grips yet whether, if something comes along, I want to pitch. That needs to be cleared up first. I’m kind of enjoying being normal and having an offseason. Usually, after only a few weeks you’re beginning the process again of getting your body in tune. I haven’t really engaged in the continual workouts like I’ve done in previous years, and it’s been a little refreshing. I’m hoping it will bring clarity into the decision.
At this point it seems unlikely that any team will give Hoffman an opportunity to enter 2011 as their closer, so the question is whether he wants to be a middle reliever and perhaps whether he wants to battle for a middle relief job on a minor-league contract. He showed enough in the second half to suggest he can still get big-league hitters out at age 43, but coming back would mean entering a season without ninth-inning duties for the first time since 1993.
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.
As expected, the Brewers have declined their 2011 options on three veterans: Trevor Hoffman, Doug Davis, and Gregg Zaun.
Hoffman gets a $750,000 buyout rather than the $7 million option after losing the closer job early in the season and posting the worst ERA of his Hall of Fame career at 5.89. At age 42 he may opt to retire with a record 601 career saves.
Davis receives a $1 million buyout in place of a $6.5 million mutual option. He came back from a heart condition and elbow problems to start eight games for the Brewers, but posted a 7.51 ERA and underwent elbow surgery last month that puts his 2011 status in serious doubt.
Zaun gets a $250,000 buyout instead of a $2.25 million option after missing nearly the entire season with a shoulder injury that required surgery in June. Zaun has indicated that he plans to play in 2011 at age 40, but will likely have to accept a minor-league contract and shot at a backup job.