For Jose Valverde, turning down arbitration was a bold move. Valverde, who was seen as the top closer on the free agent market, had the opportunity to make somewhere around $10 million in 2010 and then become a free agent once again after the season. And given how weak the market for closers is, the thought of Valverde accepting arbitration made more sense now than ever.
But despite all that, Valverde wound up declining the offer. Why? Take it away, Jose:
“Houston had a chance,” he said. “They traded me for three players in 2007, and I thought I did an excellent job for them. I feel good about the two years I played for them. They have great fans. I can't complain about them. They had me for two years doing an excellent job.So this decision all comes down to Valverde maximizing his worth in the form of a multi year deal. Valverde is keenly aware of how good his performance was over the past two years and wants to be rewarded for it with a multi year deal. Accepting arbitration would have maxed out Valverde's value for the 2010 season, but it would not have adequately reflected Valverde's high level of performance over the past two seasons.
“Another arbitration wasn't for me. If they want to win with young players, that's good. But a team like that has to invest to win. The GM said he wanted me, but if he really wanted me, he would have offered something. He never offered me any type of offer or anything. They had a chance to make an offer, and they never made it. It was always, ‘Well talk tomorrow.' Then when the time ended for the first offer, they said we'd talk later. They never, never made me an offer.”
It'll fascinating to see if Valverde is able to land a multi year deal on this market that is anywhere close to the $10-$12 million he would have earned through arbitration. In years past, he would have had no problem, but the market is different this year (as evidenced by Rafael Soriano accepting arbitration).
In addition, I can't blame GM Ed Wade for not aggressively negotiating with Valverde. The Astros are in a financial bind and until the market begins to play itself out a little more, Wade has to be patient and cannot be spending a large chunk of his payroll on a closer, who will throw on sixty innings. Given the Astros limited payroll flexibility, this decision by Valverde was a gift for the Astros, who now are not locked into 5 players for $65 million in 2010.
****Did Jose Valverde make the right move by declining arbitration?*****