"Hours before the deadline for offering arbitration to ranked free-agent players to ensure compensation in the form of coveted picks in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, Seattle offered arbitration to third baseman Beltre while not offering it to left-hander Bedard.One would think that Beltre's $12 million dollar salary in 2009 would have prevented the Mariners from offering him arbitration, but I guess the Mariners' affinity for Beltre coupled with their increased financial flexibility allowed them to offer Beltre arbitration.
This means that if Beltre -- ranked a Type B free agent by the Elias Sports Bureau based on performance over the previous two seasons -- declines the arbitration offer by 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday and ends up signing with another club, the Mariners will receive a "sandwich pick" between the first and second rounds of next June's Draft."
But make no mistake here, this decision is a calculated risk by the Mariners. They are banking that Beltre will settle for nothing less than a multi year contract and that he will not bite at their arbitration offer.
Considering Beltre's age and stature on the free agent market, one would expect him to have no problem getting a multi year deal, which would be good news for the Mariners. Even though the market for free agent third basemen is quite deep this winter, Beltre is one of the best ones because of his age, defensive ability, and power.
But this is why this move is a risk for the Mariners: there is a chance (albeit a small one) that Beltre will accept the arbitration offer, thinking that he can earn $12 million+ in 2010 and if he puts together a good season in 2010, he can be one of the top free agents on the market. Beltre is a very talented player, but he is coming off a injury plagued 2009 season and I think if he plays his cards exactly right, then he could wind up with a huge contract next year, when he will be just 31. And who knows, by then the economy might be on the upswing and more teams might have the ability to spend.
So even though all signs point to Beltre declining the Mariners arbitration offer, I can definitely see the logic in Beltre accepting this deal next Monday.
What do you think? Did the Mariners make the right move?
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