Why Raul Ibanez will decline arbitration

DMZ · August 5, 2008 at 8:13 am · Filed Under Mariners 

First, revel in the joy of not seeing Ibanez given an extension this spring, or as a distraction from the losing (back before we got numbed to it). At the start of the season I was sure it would happen, but here we are, debating if they’ll get draft picks out of him.

Anyway — Ibanez made $5.5m this year. If he heads to arbitration, he and the team get to face off for a one-year deal where they both make arguments about why he deserves $5m or $20m, and he walks off with one under contract for one of those offers. Unfortunately for the M’s, defense won’t make much of a difference in that hearing. So pick a number… say he comes out with $7m.

He can do better on the open market. Ibanez is 37, yes, but from 06 through now, he’s hitting .286/.351/.486. This year he’s at .284/.350/.472. Plus, he’s got a sterling reputation as a good clubhouse guy, a media-friendly face who always gives the post-game cliche.

Jose Guillen was younger, but got 3y/$36m for less. Or go back to 2006 — Frank Thomas got a 2y, $18m deal at 40. Or Aubrey Huff, who got a 3y, $20m deal in Houston. Carlos Lee got $100m! Heck, Luis Gonzalez was 40 and got $7m, Moises Alou was 42 and got $8.5m…. anyway. The outfielder shuffle this off-season could be ridiculous, and Ibanez could easily benefit hugely.

Ibanez will know that he’ll almost certainly get a better one-year offer on the open market than he could win in arbitration. But even if he couldn’t, what Ibanez is really going to want is a multi-year deal, and he might well get one. And as a free agent, he gets his pick of situations. If he wants out of Seattle’s losing, or if he’d prefer a more agreeable travel schedule, he can control that.

To accept arbitration, Ibanez has to decide that he’s willing to stick around for another year at all. And then he has to decide that any value he places on liking Seattle plus his agents’ best guess at what they can come out of arbitration is worth more than making more money and being able to pick his situation in free agency. And, further, he has to weigh the chances that the M’s, having taken him through arbitration, will cut him anyway, leaving him without team at some point in the off-season anyway (significantly richer, presumably), but with his options possibly quite reduced.

I’d put the odds seriously against it.

What if he accepts, the M’s lose arbitration, and they’re stuck with Ibanez for a year at, say, ten million (just a number)? They can either play him at DH, which wouldn’t be so bad, or release him and eat a chunk of the arbitration-awarded contract. Either way, that’s not such a terrible outcome.

If a team could pay that release number for a 50% chance at two good draft picks, the smart ones would all take it. At the actual chance Raul declines, almost every team would bet that money.

Take him to the end of the season, offer him arbitration, see what happens. It’s the right move.

Comments

40 Responses to “Why Raul Ibanez will decline arbitration”

  1. msb on August 5th, 2008 8:30 am

    First, revel in the joy of not seeing Ibanez given an extension this spring, or as a distraction from the losing (back before we got numbed to it).

    “There are hints that the team, which was close to sending Ibanez to Toronto on Thursday at the trade deadline, is making overtures about a 2009 contract. Ibanez won’t say, and neither will the Mariners.”–John Hickey

  2. smb on August 5th, 2008 8:42 am

    Wow, msb ends the party before it even begins. Here’s my question: Assuming the team does the unthinkably terrible and extends Ibanez, is he still a type A after next season if it’s only a one-year deal? How dependent would that be upon his ’09 performance, if at all?

  3. Joe C on August 5th, 2008 8:47 am

    Even better, let him take Vidro’s spot and DH the rest of this year so he’ll go into the offseason thinking, “if the Mariners won’t let me play the outfield, I’ll go somewhere else”.

    Isn’t it past time to put Wlad back out there?

  4. gwangung on August 5th, 2008 8:48 am

    Why was this unthinkable? This was inevitable…

    Go right ahead, team….handcuff your next GM as much as you can now, then blame them when they don’t succeed….

  5. gwangung on August 5th, 2008 8:50 am

    Even better, let him take Vidro’s spot and DH the rest of this year so he’ll go into the offseason thinking, “if the Mariners won’t let me play the outfield, I’ll go somewhere else”.

    Isn’t it past time to put Wlad back out there?

    For a team looking for the long term, yes.

    For the Mariners….probably not.

  6. msb on August 5th, 2008 9:00 am

    my first thought was … theoretically you didn’t trade him because no offer came up to the caliber of players you could get with the draft picks, so now you are going to forfeit those same draft picks?

  7. the other benno on August 5th, 2008 9:31 am

    Isn’t it past time to put Wlad back out there?

    Isn’t Wlad at best a right fielder? Especially given the spacious nature of Safeco’s left field? I see comments here and there to DH Raul and put Wlad in left, but isn’t that just maintaining the status quo on bad left field defense?

  8. Joe C on August 5th, 2008 9:45 am

    But according to the PI, Riggleman is thinking long term. So, is Vidro the Mariners’ long term DH?

    And back to the topic… I don’t know that Wlad’s defense is any worse than Ibanez, but his bat is ready. Why not give him a shot to show that the last time was a sss and get Vidro out of the lineup? We know what Ibanez and Vidro can and can’t do, why can’t we find out what Wlad can do both at the plate and in the outfield?

  9. Ralph_Malph on August 5th, 2008 9:46 am

    Wlad can’t be worse than Raul in left. Surely he can cover more ground. I could cover more ground.

  10. gwangung on August 5th, 2008 10:01 am

    And back to the topic… I don’t know that Wlad’s defense is any worse than Ibanez, but his bat is ready. Why not give him a shot to show that the last time was a sss and get Vidro out of the lineup? We know what Ibanez and Vidro can and can’t do, why can’t we find out what Wlad can do both at the plate and in the outfield?

    This crew doesn’t trust young players and it over-values old players.

    That RARELY wins you championships.

  11. PaulMolitorCocktail on August 5th, 2008 10:06 am

    3 years, $35M. Make note of this prediction!

  12. Steve T on August 5th, 2008 10:19 am

    I guarantee at some point someone very high up in the front office will say the words “but Raul is the only one on this team we need to keep”. Even though he won’t really believe it himself, this is the lie that they will tell themselves to find a way. I think PaulMolitorCocktail is right.

  13. Dobbs on August 5th, 2008 10:26 am

    This begs the question… why haven’t they done this in the past? Mike Cameron is a prime example.

    I got the feeling before they just didn’t care for draft picks because of that and it was backed up by signing guys like Raul before teams could even make the decision to offer arbitration and simply forfeiting draft picks out of stupidity or choice.

    Perhaps times have changed?

  14. Mr. Egaas on August 5th, 2008 10:31 am

    My money is the M’s signing him to an extension in September before it even gets to that.

  15. msb on August 5th, 2008 10:31 am

    I got the feeling before they just didn’t care for draft picks

    wasn’t that a Gillickism?

  16. msb on August 5th, 2008 10:44 am

    hmm. I see there were some August picks in the pre-season Extension Pool

  17. Crushgroovin on August 5th, 2008 10:46 am

    What in the the recent past should lead us to believe that the LincStrong administration won’t fall all over themselves attempting to resign Ibanez. 3 years 35m may even be low. His value to their chemistry set is incredible. After all he is a “quality guy” he is “great in the clubhouse” and my ATF he “plays the game the right way”. I can’t imagine that they would ever DH him.

    The M’s already have a DH in Vidro. The Vidro Kool-Aid drinkers will likely re-sign him as well. After all every time he steps to the plate he has a “quality at bat” the Kool-Aid has them believing that his numbers don’t really reflect his actual performance.

    Hell if Sexson hadn’t pouted about being benched and had instead been a team player he would likely still be with the organization. Look at the comments after he was released I don’t remember anyone from the M’s relating his release to anything other than the fact that his attitude started to suck when his playing time was reduced.

    Over the last two years I have told everyone that will listen that as long as Howard Lincoln is in charge the M’s will never make the play offs. Wait and see the next GM will be little more than a Lincoln Armstrong YES man.

  18. optigan on August 5th, 2008 10:52 am

    @13, that isn’t begging the question.

  19. mln on August 5th, 2008 10:55 am

    So judging by the comments here, I take it no one wants to join the “Raul and Willie, Marinerz 4 Life” club that I am starting on MySpace?!

  20. msb on August 5th, 2008 11:12 am

    say, did you know that Raul and Adrian are ‘two of the finest people’ that Jim Riggleman has been around in baseball?

  21. hob on August 5th, 2008 11:30 am

    Whoa! Way too much logical thought in that post to take in at one time. After last night’s game the powers-that-be must be more infatuated with Raul then they ever have before. I mean he broke one of JUNIOR’S records!

  22. ChrisB on August 5th, 2008 11:30 am

    WHat amazed me is that Ibanez’ career numbers are .285/.345/.471 [.816] while this season he is .285/.350/.472. Quite consistent, and that would fuel his belief that he can get a 2 year contract somewhere.

    Hell, there must be a team that can use him as a DH .. what teams have bad Designate.. oh right.

  23. BurkeForPres on August 5th, 2008 12:32 pm

    Sometimes I wish the guys in the Mariners’ FO would have some semblance of a logical pattern of thought, such as one presented in this post today.

    I love thinking about things and analyzing things and what might happen, but I just hate that in the back of my mind there is the trump card of the Mariners’ organization to, most likely, screw everything that can be screwed, up.

    P.S. this edit post thing is awesome. Kudos.

  24. great gonzalez on August 5th, 2008 12:34 pm

    This begs the question…

    “Begging the question” is a logical fallacy wherein the truth of the conclusion is assumed by the premise (basically, a circular argument); it is not synonymous with “raises the question”. This message brought to you by Losing Battle International.

  25. longbeachglenn on August 5th, 2008 12:41 pm
  26. Evan R. on August 5th, 2008 12:42 pm

    I thought about going after the “begs the question” poster, then remembered how many times I’ve made that same correction, only to be met with blank stares and accusations of asshole-itis.

  27. msb on August 5th, 2008 12:46 pm

    I still fail to see how Seattle was supposed to ‘stockpile prospects’ when they didn’t have the same sort of talent to deal for said prospects as “the rest of the division”

  28. pygmalion on August 5th, 2008 12:50 pm

    “Begging the question” is a logical fallacy wherein the truth of the conclusion is assumed by the premise (basically, a circular argument); it is not synonymous with “raises the question”. This message brought to you by Losing Battle International.

    It’s as if they stopped teaching geometry and everyone began using “right angle” to mean a “right turn.”

    The real question this raises is why the boundaries of the phrase didn’t degrade into mash sooner. My guess is that a lot more people had to learn logic in the past than do so now, and hence knew the names of the different fallacies; and this small but significant population of people who knew what the phrase meant were enough to keep its meaning from being lost.

  29. pygmalion on August 5th, 2008 12:54 pm

    I thought about going after the “begs the question” poster, then remembered how many times I’ve made that same correction, only to be met with blank stares and accusations of asshole-itis.

    It’s worst when you are accused of being the “grammar-police.”

    Where do you start?

  30. John in L.A. on August 5th, 2008 12:55 pm

    I still fail to see how Seattle was supposed to ’stockpile prospects’ when they didn’t have the same sort of talent to deal for said prospects as “the rest of the division”

    I don’t think he meant only that they should have traded for prospects, more about not trading away their own.

    I think we can all agree that different choices in FA and in trading could have left us with much less veteran grittiness and more prospects.

    For instance, what we are going to do when we give Raul an extension instead of taking the draft picks.

  31. Sports on a Schtick on August 5th, 2008 1:02 pm

    The M’s already have a DH in Vidro. The Vidro Kool-Aid drinkers will likely re-sign him as well.

    That must be Jim Jones Kool-Aid.

  32. notanangrygradstudent on August 5th, 2008 1:40 pm

    For instance, what we are going to do when we give Raul an extension instead of taking the draft picks.

    Um…suck?? Or were you looking for more detail, there?

  33. John in L.A. on August 5th, 2008 1:47 pm

    Um…suck?? Or were you looking for more detail, there?

    It wasn’t a question, just an example of how we avoid stockpiling prospects.

    Poorly worded on my part, but it was “what we are going to do…” not “what are we going to do…”

  34. notanangrygradstudent on August 5th, 2008 1:53 pm

    Damn, misread it. That makes it a lot less funny….

  35. fdeezle on August 5th, 2008 1:54 pm

    Unrelated to this thread but [unrelated to the thread; but with good news like that you can be sure there'll be a post shortly]

  36. LB on August 5th, 2008 4:02 pm

    Boston traded for Tony Graffanino in 2005 because they needed a second baseman and because they wanted to get a draft pick for him after the season. He was “only” 33, and he hit .309 /.366/.425 — not bad for a middle infielder.

    Graffanino said there was interest among other clubs until the arb offer came, then it all dried up. Boston had to go to arbitration with him. (They offered it, after all.) They wound up dumping him through waivers at the end of 2006 spring training just to free his roster spot. They did not get a draft pick out of the experience.

    Isn’t there a danger this could happen with Raul?

  37. scott19 on August 5th, 2008 4:30 pm

    Graffanino said there was interest among other clubs until the arb offer came, then it all dried up. Boston had to go to arbitration with him. (They offered it, after all.) They wound up dumping him through waivers at the end of 2006 spring training just to free his roster spot. They did not get a draft pick out of the experience.

    Didn’t Gillick wind up doing something similar back in the spring of 2000 with the awesome left-field veteran experience that was Brian Hunter?

  38. endaround on August 5th, 2008 7:50 pm

    Actually Tony Graffanino is a very interesting comparison. As said after 2005 no one would give up a draft pick for him and so the Red Sox ended up cutting him and he went to KC. KC then traded him to Milwaukee and in 2006 he put up a decent line of .274/.345/.406-one would think pretty nice for a 2B. Milwaukee decided to end up offering him arby to get picks, but he was a Type A and no one wanted to give up a pick to get what was thought to be a bench player-the Padres had a two year deal waiting for him if Milwaukee didn’t offer arby, they balked at giving up the pick when Milwaukee did offer. So Graffanino ended up back in Milwaukee and blowing out his leg costing him $2-3m in salary for this year.

    The point is is there a team out there that really sees Ibanez as a starter worth giving up a 1st or 2nd rd pick over? If he’s Type B, no question you do it, but Type A is different. Now you can always trade him next season after the minimum time elapses, but then you have injury risk of a 37 year old player in addition to collapse risk.

  39. Madison Mariner on August 6th, 2008 8:23 am

    The point is is there a team out there that really sees Ibanez as a starter worth giving up a 1st or 2nd rd pick over? If he’s Type B, no question you do it, but Type A is different.

    That’s the crux of the dilemna, I suppose.

    If Wayne Krivsky was still GM of the Reds, there would be no question that they would sign Ibanez this offseason. Even without him, would Walt Jocketty go after someone like Ibanez to hold down LF for 2 years after Adam Dunn departs via free agency?

    I don’t know for certain, but if Dunn leaves(as seems likely) and he declines arbitration, the Reds are getting draft picks anyway, so maybe they don’t care about losing what would seem in all likelihood their 2nd round draft pick to the Mariners when/if they sign Ibanez in this hypothetical scenario I’ve concocted?

    (2nd round since the Reds are on pace for a below .500 finish, thus (in all liklihood) ensuring that their own 2009 1st round pick is protected in next year’s draft.)

    And the Reds aren’t the only below .500 team who may think about signing to a 1 or 2-year contract to hold down the fort in LF, if you ask me. I could see the Braves doing the same thing, and they’d only lose a 2nd round draft pick based on their current record being carried forward to season’s end.

  40. Madison Mariner on August 6th, 2008 8:40 am

    That’s the crux of the dilemna, I suppose.

    Of course, I meant “dilemma”. Oops!

    …ensuring that their own 2009 1st round pick is protected in next year’s draft

    And of course, “2009 1st round pick…in next year’s draft” is humorously redundant!

    I should’ve gotten more sleep last night. ;)

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