Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts made a good point yesterday when he asked:
Honestly, if the Dodgers had done nothing to this point except offer Wolf and Hudson arbitration — if they had gotten those draft picks as compensation, made no roster additions and were just waiting out the market to sign a No. 4 starter at a good price, I don’t think many of us would have complained, right?
He then went on to say:
The question assumes that Randy Wolf and Orlando Hudson would have turned down salary arbitration, which I think was likely if not certain. If one or both had accepted, I suppose we would have seen what the Dodgers payroll was really made of. Possibly the Dodgers would have salary-dumped someone like George Sherrill for prospects — essentially reversing this summer’s acquisition of him — which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Possibly the Dodgers would have just sucked up the additional cost, even if it meant their off-season was over before it began.
I agree that it was likely that Wolf and Hudson would have turned down arbitration, but it was not certain. That’s the rub – “likely” but not “certain.” First of all, let’s get the part that the Dodgers didn’t want to pay a first round pick, out of the way. Depending upon who Wolf and Hudson signed with (assuming they would have been signed), the Dodgers would have probably had to pay around $3,000,000.00 for the picks (combined, more or less). If you think the reason was that they didn’t want to pay the draft picks $3 mil and that it wasn’t the possibility that they would have to pay $20 mil to Wolf and Hudson, then you might as well stop reading right here. You have issues! The Dodgers aren’t broke, but they are strapped for cash. $3 mil they could handle. $20 mil? No way!
It may have been a 10% chance that Wolf and Hudson would have accepted arbitration or it may have been a 40% chance they would have accepted it. I don’t know and you don’t know and Jon Weisman doesn’t know. We all have our own ideas, but NO ONE KNOWS! That much is a fact! Look, the Dodgers simply didn’t want to take the risk that Wolf and Hudson “might” accept arbitration, because it’s possible they would have gotten $20 mil between them and that would have tied 20% of the Dodgers payroll up with two players who are arguably “journeymen.” It was a classic “risk vs. reward” and the Dodgers opted not to play a game of “chicken.”
I am also pretty sure that Milwaukee wouldn’t have offered quite the deal Wolf got had he been offered arbitration by the Dodgers – Wolf would have understood that an might have had to accept it. How the arbitration would have impacted it is something we will never know, but if you think it wouldn’t have affected it, you are Pollyanna. To date, no one has offered Hudson a contract. Sure he was pissed off at Torre, but money talks and he could have gotten $7-8 mil from the Dodgers in arbitration. Some say “Kim Ng has an excellent record at beating players in arbitration” but any attorney knows that anything can happen in court (or arbitration).
The market has been pretty slow for Free Agents. No one but the Cards have offered a contract to Matt Holiday (arguably this years’ best free agent). No one is beating down Jason Bays’ door and there are lots of players out there who will not get offers unless they drop their demands. Adrian Beltre is asking $10-15 mil a year and in my opinion, I think he will be lucky to get $5 mil. Dodger attendance was not down last year, but “REVENUE” was. Attendance is one thing, revenue is another issue entirely. By refusing to offer arbitration the Dodgers are going to be in a good position come February and March. Randy Wolf had a good year last year, but it was likely his “Career Year.” He’s the same guy most of you weren’t excited about last year.
Yes, the Dodgers are “bottom feeders” this year, and they may get just what they need by doing it. Have you ever considered the “big picture?” Wait until the off-season is over before passing judgement!