A couple more offseason plans arrived in my e-mail today. Not to spoil them, but they both start by letting Octavio Dotel leave without offering arbitration.
That has been the one unanimous decision in all the offseason plans thus far. Letting Jermaine Dye walk is a close second, but some have at least entertained the idea of taking him back at a reduced salary for DH purposes.
Anyway, along with the plans in my e-mail, I got this one from Chris Pummer introducing the argument in favor of offering Dotel arbitration.
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I’m one of your lurking readers. Thanks for all the work you do in putting out a quality White Sox blog.
The offseason plan posts you’ve been running have been interesting, even if they’re not always realistic. It’s still kind of a fun way to see how informed readers think the team can be improved for next year.
A universal component of these plans is to decline arbitration to Octavio Dotel because of his $6 million price tag this past season. Assuming he didn’t break the bank with an arbitration panel, he’d stand to get a modest raise over that — though I don’t know I foresee an award bigger than $7 million.
That’s a pretty steep price to pay for a middle reliever, which is why I’m sure so many readers think it’s not worth the risk to offer arbitration.
But would it really be that much considering the cost of acquiring a capable replacement?
Is there another free agent reliever the Sox would be able to pick up for a contract better than 1-year/$7-million? One who is as good a bet as Dotel to pitch well?
I know relievers can be flaky from year to year, but isn’t that a better reason to overpay a little bit to keep a guy on a one-year deal instead of having to go Linebrink by inking a guy for 2-4 seasons?
If the regular collection of minor-league free agents, veteran non-roster invitees and injury-riddled reclamation projects fail to turn into an arm or two, the Sox will have to use a prospect to pick up a guy midseason — at least if they’re contending. The cost to do that this year was Brandon Allen for Tony Pena.
When you consider the costs associated with not bringing Dotel back, it seems like the Sox would only be risking a couple million bucks on someone else overpaying by much more. After all, we still saw guys like Kerry Wood and Kyle Farnsworth get ridiculous deals last year. And they hadn’t been as good as Dotel has been the last two seasons.
It’s not even a sure bet Dotel accepts arbitration. He could go the Juan Cruz route. He decline arbitration from Arizona last year and ended up with less per year with the Royals (though for more years, which must be nice for him after his terrible 2009).
I understand there are a few other mitigating circumstances here:
*The Sox already have a lot of money tied up in the bullpen with Bobby Jenks due a big arbitration raise and Linebrink still on the books for two more years. Thornton isn’t cheap anymore, plus they might want to do a longer deal with Pena if they’ve decided they really like him.
*Payroll might be an issue after a few cost-cutting moves last offseason, followed by big-dollar pickups in season.
*Dotel might be more likely to accept after watching the market last year, plus seeing a deeper group of right-handed relievers on the market this season.
*There could be a better deal out there if the Sox want to pick up part of another bad contract. For instance, maybe the Reds would pay for half of what they owe Francisco Cordero to get him off their books. That would make his deal more like 2-years/$13 million.
To answer those in no particular order, I think the Sox can’t count on a team wanting to move a good player just because of a bad contract. I don’t think the payroll issue looms as large for the Sox as some think. And as a big-market team that shouldn’t have to pinch pennies, the Sox should be capable of gambling a little bit so they can squeeze every bit of value out of Dotel that they can, especially when the downside of him accepting arbitration is hardly a crippling blow. It could even work out very nicely.
That’s why I say they should go ahead and offer arbitration. Because even better yet, Dayton Moore will probably be they guy to give Dotel 3-years/$21 million and the Sox his second-round draft pick for 2010.
Sorry for the long e-mail. Just wanted to kick in my two cents.
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One note I’ll add about Dotel — over the final month of 2009, he struck out 12 batters to just one walk. It was the only month in which Dotel had a K/BB ratio significantly above 2.00, when he averaged more than three strikeouts per walk over the entire season.
September is a great month for pitchers, and you never want to put too much stock in an outlier, but this is one reason why I don’t consider it an open-and-shut case. To me, the biggest sticking point is that it almost necessitates a Bobby Jenks trade, and who knows if the market is there.
Christian Marrero Reading Room:
*The World Series anniversary inspired a couple of thoughtful posts. Andrew notes that guys like Cliff Politte are treated as a foregone conclusion instead of a flashes in the pan, and J.J. wonders when the grace period ends.
*J.J. also reviews Gordon Beckham’s 2009 performance.
*The Cheat posts a sneak preview of Bill James’ Lake Wobegonish 2010 projectons.
Arizona Fall League:
- Peoria 10, Scottsdale 9
- Jordan Danks singled twice, walked twice, scored three runs and drove one in five plate appearances.
- C.J. Retherford went 2-for-5 with two RBI.
- Brent Morel went 1-for-4 with a strikeout, sac fly and stolen base in his AFL debut.
- Sergio Santos made this game interesting in the ninth: 1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K.