Via Ken Rosenthal:
Monday, the deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to their respective free agents, could offer the first true glimpse of how much the economic crisis is affecting the way clubs do business.
In a better economy, most teams would not hesitate to offer a one-year deal through arbitration to attractive Type A free agents. Some teams would want such players back on one-year deals, even at arbitration-inflated salaries. Other teams, knowing that the players likely would depart for multiyear contracts, would offer arbitration to ensure that they received draft-pick compensation in return.
In most cases, little has changed. The Brewers, for example, are certain to offer arbitration to left-hander CC Sabathia, knowing they have nothing to lose and high draft picks to gain. The Yankees, on the other hand, do not figure to extend such an offer to lefty Andy Pettitte. If they wanted to give Pettitte a one-year contract with an increase from his $16 million salary, they would have done it by now.
If the Yankees don’t offer Pettitte arbitration then some team who is kinda/sorta in the CC Sabathia hunt (but who has an uphill chase in signing the big lefty) may just see this as a great chance to sign somebody else (meaning Pettitte) to a shorter-term deal (like two years plus an option) at less money without having to also give up a draft pick.
The only question may be whether or not Pettitte will take something around $14 million a season, for two years, from someone other than the Yankees.
However, given the quality of free agent pitchers out there – especially left-handed ones – it would not shock me to see someone out there with a desire to sign a pitcher like Pettitte to a very short-term deal over signing someone like Sheets, Burnett, Lowe, or Perez to a long-term deal.
You know, a typical flight between Milwaukee and Houston would have a flying time of about 2 hours. If the Yankees make Pettitte that much better looking, by not offering him arbitration, do you think Willie Randolph may give Andy a call and tell him about how the Brewers, with some pitching to replace Sabathia and Sheets, could be a contender in 2009?