Aribtration Deadline Looms
Some of you may remember the days when a free agent had to be offered arbitration or be unable to sign with his original team until May 1 of the next year. The last CBA removed that requirement, however, so a guy like Nick Punto could be re-signed by the Twins even if he's not offered arbitration tomorrow.
Should the Twins make any arbitration offers? I'll deal with the easiest question first -- they shouldn't even consider it for anyone other than Reyes. There's no reason to offer Nick Punto arbitration, even if they want him back. Come to terms on a fair deal -- and if he doesn't like the offer, let him walk. I suppose an argument could be made that Punto would be more likely to return if he were offered arbitration, but it doesn't make much sense to put his salary in the hands of an arbitrator who very well may overvalue his ability to play all over the field. I'm not taking a position in this post on whether the Twins should bring back Punto or not -- I'm just saying that regardless of their plans, they shouldn't offer him arbitration.
As for Reyes, I don't actually think it's that hard of a decision either. If Reyes was some sort of albatross, the team would have to think twice about making him an offer that he just might accept. He isn't, however -- he's a valuable lefty who could contribute in the bullpen next year if he decided to come back. Reyes has now had three seasons with the Twins -- one spectacular, one pretty good, and one on the bad side of so-so. Since he bounced back last year from his so-so 2007 season, it appears that he still has the ability to be a useful situational lefty out of the bullpen. If the Twins offer him arbitration, then, they'll either get back a useful lefty or they'll gain a draft pick. To me, that's a win-win.
On the other hand, if the Twins fail to offer Reyes arbitration, they would be guaranteed nothing -- they could try to re-sign him as a free agent, but he's likely to get better offers elsewhere. If they fail, they'd get nothing. If Reyes were to accept arbitration he'd probably get a pretty solid salary from the arbitrator -- but it isn't likely that the salary for a middle reliever, even if arbitration inflated, is going to bankrupt the team. It's almost not even worthy of calling a "risk."
I expect that tomorrow will produce little drama -- Reyes will most likely be offered arbitration, and everyone else is likely to be offered nothing. I'd be perfectly happy with that result.