Rodney, Lyon offered arbitration, Rodney not
The Tigers decided to offer arbitration to Type B free agent relievers Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon, but not to Type A free agent Placido Polanco.
The announcement ahead of Tuesday night’s midnight ET deadline sets the stage for the Tigers to receive compensation picks in next year’s First-Year Player Draft if Rodney and/or Lyon sign elsewhere, but nothing in exchange for Polanco.
Though the Tigers had to be tempted by the potential for two compensation picks, there was a logical chance Polanco would have considered arbitration if offered. While a multi-year deal is obviously a huge appeal for the 34-year-old second baseman, arbitration would’ve almost surely hurt his value on the market. Any other team would’ve had to give up a first- or second-round Draft pick to sign him, and that would’ve slowed the market on him. The other pick would’ve been sandwiched between the first and second rounds.
Moreover, the one-year salary Polanco could’ve earned in arbitration could have been very tempting. Polanco earned $4.6 million in each of his four full seasons in Detroit as part of an extension he signed in 2005, but contracts signed last offseason for such All-Star second basemen as Boston’s Dustin Pedroia and Baltimore’s Brian Roberts have come at much larger salaries.
The Tigers are prepared to promote Scott Sizemore, their Minor League Player of the Year, to second base. Sizemore underwent surgery in October after breaking his ankle while playing in the Arizona Fall League, but he’s projected to be ready for the start of Spring Training. The Tigers are still free to negotiate with Polanco’s representatives and try to re-sign him.
The risk is far less on Lyon and Rodney, since any other team that signs them won’t have to give up a draft pick. The compensation picks on them would come at the end of the second round.
Both Rodney and Lyon are looking for multi-year deals and attracting interest along those lines, even in a relief market that can be unpredictable.
Rodney and Lyon have six days to accept or reject arbitration. Given their situations, they’ll likely to reject the offers. That won’t necessarily close off the Tigers’ interest, but it sets the challenge of multi-year offers, something that could require the Tigers to do some of their much-rumored maneuvering to free up payroll.
Lyon’s agent, Barry Meister, indicated he has stayed in touch with the Tigers, though talks won’t likely progress until teams and agents gather in Indianapolis next week for baseball’s Winter Meetings.
“We’ve each expressed mutual interest,” Meister said. “Well have a chance to sit down with them and talk about him at the Winter Meetings.”
Detroit’s last compensation pick was a first-round sandwich selection for reliever Jamie Walker, who signed quickly with the Orioles following the 2006 season before the Tigers had to decide on arbitration.
Detroit’s other three free agents this offseason — Adam Everett, Aubrey Huff and Jarrod Washburn — were not offered arbitration. They didn’t qualify as Type A or B free agents, so they wouldn’t have brought any compensation picks in return