I could really use a nice dose of baseball after watching so much football this week, so this should be a refreshing breath of air for me. And, you know, hopefully it's something worth reading for you guys, too. We're going to cover Boston today, and this shouldn't take too long given that the Red Sox aren't exactly loaded with arbitration-eligible players. Previous installments can be found through this link here, and here are some quick explanations of the arbitration system, service time, and "Super Twos", courtesy of MLBTR.
And remember, we're doing these in order of each player's respective 2010 salary like I did in the previous posts, and any references to a raise are based on those salaries as well.
RHP Jonathan Papelbon - 3rd season of arbitration - Non-tender
Sorry, but I just can't pay roughly $12 million for a guy who's put up essentially a 4.00 xFIP over the past two seasons. Maybe you can afford to pay that kind of money for a living legend when you have essentially unlimited resources (Mariano, ahem), but Papelbon just isn't worth that kind of money right now.
They already have a cheaper internal replacement in Daniel Bard, whose arguably out-pitched Papelbon in the past two years. They already owe big money to John Lackey, Josh Beckett, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew, and they still have to figure out what to do with David Ortiz, Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez. There's just not a huge need to spend that much money on a closer, and I think that Boston could do a lot more with $11-12 million in payroll than land a good reliever.
LHP Hideki Okajima - 2nd season of arbitration - Non-tender
The lefty hasn't even pitched well against left-handed hitters this season (4.79 xFIP vs. LHH). His bat-missing ability has decline over each of the past three seasons. He's essentially been a replacement-level reliever this year given that he's a flyball guy with a constantly worsening strikeout-to-walk ratio. He's a soon-to-be 35 years-old, and now he's not only struggling against right-handers but lefties as well. There must be something in the water in the Fenway bullpen - both Papelbon and Okajima have shown significant signs of decline since the end of the 2008 season.
OF Jacoby Ellsbury - 1st season of arbitration - Tender, raise from $0.497M
It's been a particularly brutal year for Ellsbury, who's missed all but 18 games this season and has played terribly when he's gotten on the field. But he spent 2008 and 2009 establishing himself as one of the better young center fielders in the game, and he seems highly likely to bounce back assuming that he can stay healthy. His raise shouldn't be too big given the year he's had, and he should continue to be an asset at the top of the lineup with good health. There's speculation that the Red Sox could deal him, but he's essentially a lock to be tendered regardless of his club.
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia - 1st season of arbitration - Tender, raise from $0.418M
Boston gave up a couple of intriguing pieces in Chris McGuiness and Roman Mendez in order to acquire Salty from the Rangers, so they'll likely want to give him a more extended look before deciding that he doesn't have a long-term place in the organization. While he's obviously been extremely disappointing at the major league level, batting just .250/.315/.388 in 893 plate appearances primarily with Texas, he's still pretty young and his minor league performance has indicated that he could perform better with more reps. There's still an outside chance that Saltalamacchia develops into a high-quality offensive catcher, as he's still only 25 and it's tough to deny his potential. It's worth taking a flier on.