Arbitration finds little acceptance in 2009
Only three of 19 ranked free agents renew ties with clubs
INDIANAPOLIS -- The current market of free agents may be a tentative one, a ring for shadow boxing, but it did not serve as the catapult for a suspected retort by those offered arbitration by their 2009 clubs.Only three of the 19 ranked free agents who pondered the decision up to Monday's 11:59 p.m. ET deadline renewed their vows by granting their acceptance.
Accepting were three pitchers -- starter Carl Pavano, with the Twins, and relievers Rafael Soriano (Braves) and Rafael Betancourt (Rockies).Though that is on the historic high end, both in terms of numbers and percentage, it fell considerably short of the projections of analysts who foresaw free agents wrapping themselves in arbitration as protection against a chilly market. The motive for rejecting arbitration is faith in being able to garner a multiyear contract. So players, with their agents' encouragement, cast a loud vote of confidence in the baseball economy. One, Ivan Rodriguez, instantly cashed in his vote. Pudge agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal with the Nationals, and if a two-year contract for a 38-year-old catcher is an indication of what this market will bear, it will be quite bullish. Rodriguez's pending signing means that 15 others untethered themselves on the unknown open market. Leading that exodus -- no surprises here -- were outfielders Jason Bay and Matt Holliday, and right-hander John Lackey: the market's Three Tenors. It also means that 13 clubs heaved great sighs of relief for having had their intuitions upheld with the arbitration rejections, and now are positioned to receive Draft compensations when the players in question are signed away.
Deal or no deal