As you’ve probably heard, the Dodgers non-tendered five players, making them free agents: Takashi Saito, Angel Berroa, Scott Proctor, Yhency Brazoban, and Mario Alvarez. Forget Alvarez and Brazoban, because Alvarez is a minor leaguer who’s injured (but hey, at least we let him eat up a roster spot while losing Wesley Wright to Houston) and Brazoban is a fat tub of injured goo who’s made it into 11 games over three years. So no big losses there, unless you count the only guy in the room who might have made Andruw Jones feel svelte.
As for Saito, Proctor, and Berroa, this doesn’t necessarily mean the end of them in Dodger blue – but it does mean that any team can now talk to them. For Berroa, that makes complete sense, because after the Dodgers declined his $5.5 million option (!!!) they would have had to offer him at least $3.8m because there’s only so much you can cut a player’s salary in his situation. Considering I don’t think Berroa’s worth $3.80, that’s a pretty easy decision. Proctor, well, you know that Joe Torre will do whatever he can to ensure he’s back. Hell, if Proctor signs with another team, I half expect Torre will quit and try to go get that job.
And then there’s Takashi Saito, who by some measures has been the best closer in baseball over the last three years. Just a bizarre situation all around, here. Usually you can look at a baseball or financial decision and draw comparision to similar choices in the past. But can you name any other soon-to-be-39 relievers who don’t have free agency rights who’ve dominated the opposition, yet choose to avoid elbow surgery with experimental injections of blessed pig’s blood? (Okay, it was stem cells.Whatever.) If the Dodgers decided it was time to part ways because of his injury, that’s fine – but they had offered him a contract that was deemed unacceptable by Saito’s agent, which sounds like they’re relatively confident he can pitch next year.
Usually, I’d attack the Dodgers for letting a valuable piece go over a relatively small amount of money, but not this time. Arbitrators like to look at fancy numbers, and Saito certainly has that. It’s not unreasonable to think that he might have received $5 million next year, and that’s too much to gamble on a guy who might never throw another pitch. It used to be that players who were non-tendered weren’t allowed to sign with their old teams before May 1, almost guaranteeing they wouldn’t return. Fortunately that’s no longer the case, so hopefully Saito won’t want to start over somewhere else at this stage in his career and we’ll see him come to an arrangement with the Blue.
But who did get tendered an offer? Jason Repko, of all people. Now I like Jason Repko, I do. It’s just odd to see a team make sure to keep a guy who gets injured at a level that’s Nomar-esque and has a career OPS+ of 76. Actually, Nomar-esque might be insulting to Nomar – Repko missed all of 2007 and has only 148 MLB at-bats in the last three seasons. That said, a .373 OBP in AAA this season is pretty tasty, and with a track record like his he can’t stand to make a lot in arbitration.
On the other hand, teams don’t usually offer arbitration to guys who they plan to keep in the minors all season long, and as we all know the Dodgers have a ton of outfielders, and possibly one more on the way. Maybe our prayers for getting rid of Jones or Pierre really will be answered!