Today is the deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to their players who became free agents. The players have until Dec. 7 to accept or decline.
The process will start a second feeding frenzy when some of the top names on the market like Tom Glavine, Barry Bonds, Barry Zito, Dave Roberts, Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Jason Schmidt, Gil Meche and Jeff Suppan will either be offered arbitration or not, but either way it will make them even richer than they already are.
In other years, free agents not offered arbitration couldn't sign with their previous teams before May 1 but under the new rules the two sides can continue negotiations and, if a player is re-signed, he would be eligible to play for the team on Opening Day.
Free agents offered arbitration and then signed by another team may still cost the signing team a draft choice but the Type A and B groups have been pared down and to the top 20 percent of A players and those losing a B free agent will receive an extra draft pick next June.
Of course, teams can offer arbitration to top free agents they believe will sign elsewhere to make sure they get that extra draft pick but since fewer players qualify for Type A and with fewer draft picks resulting, it will likely mean fewer arbitration offerings.
Players and owners will find out which players will bring draft picks, thus opening the free agent bidding for those who don't qualify by Dec. 12, the deadline to offer contracts -- rolls around.
Dodger free agents include C Einar Diaz, RHP Eric Gagne, OF Kenny Lofton, SS Julio Lugo, RHP Greg Maddux and RHP Aaron Sele. Of the list, Los Angeles interest seems to focus on Gagne and Maddux.
The Dodgers are expected to offer arbitration to two of them, Julio Lugo and Greg Maddux. They expect Lugo to reject it and sign a multiyear deal elsewhere, which would entitle the Dodgers to compensation. They would be pleased if Maddux accepts, because that would be for one year, not the two years he's seeking.
They are not expected to offer arbitration to Eric Gagne, Kenny Lofton, Aaron Sele or Einar Diaz.
After missing much of the past two seasons following three operations (two on his elbow and one on his back), he told Ken Gurnich of MLB.com he is feeling "unbelievably good."
"I'm just focusing on getting healthy and getting back to the mound," Gagne said over the Thanksgiving weekend. "I'm focusing on that and nothing else. I'm anxious to know if I'll be in L.A. or not. I don't know what's going to happen. I don't know their direction. A lot of the decision is up to the Dodgers. They've signed some good guys the past two years, and they're going in the right direction. But I don't know if I'm in their plans or not."
Obviously, the problem with perhaps the best closer in major league history over a three-year period (152 saves) is will he be able to return to his former, dominating self.
At one time, Gagne suggested he would be willingness to accept a hometown discount to return. But would his agent, Scott Boras, allow him to do that?
After paying him $19 million for 2005-06, during which he saved eight games, the club bought out his 2007 option for $1 million.
"I've never been in better shape," he said. "I'm excited to be able to pitch without pain. My arm feels better than it has in years. For the past two years, there were good days and bad days. In a perfect world, I'd be back in L.A. the next four or five years. But I've got to deal with what I've got to deal with. I've been hurt. That's the way it is."
As for Maddux, he became one of the Dodgers top pitchers down the stretch, recording an 5-3 record withh a 3.30 earned run average. He has indicated he would like to return to the Dodgers but hasn't been asked as of yet.
His Component Earned Run Average, estimating what a pitcher's actual ERA should have been based on raw pitching statistics, was a sparkling 2.61.
Some have been concerned about his age (41 in 2007) and the fact he was what they have called "a five-inning pitcher." However, over a dozen starts he was second only to Derek Lowe in innings per start (6.10 to Lowe's 6.32) and the club was 8-4 in his starts.
So you have a pair of Dodger pitchers, a potential super-stopper and a Hall of Fame starter, and the only question is, how much can you/should you pay for them?
40-Man Roster Pitchers age b/t ht wt 97 Joe Beimel (30) L/L 6-2 215 58 Chad Billingsley (22) R/R 6-0 245 43 Yhency Brazoban (27) R/R 6-0 240 51 Jonathan Broxton (23) R/R 6-3 290 45 Elmer Dessens (36) R/R 5-11 200 67 Jose Diaz (23) R/R 6-4 300 -- Zachary Hammes (23) R/R 6-6 225 47 Tim Hamulack (30) R/L 6-2 220 30 Mark Hendrickson (33) L/L 6-9 230 27 D.J. Houlton (27) R/R 6-3 220 -- Eric Hull (27) R/R 5-11 185 56 Hong-Chih Kuo (25) L/L 6-0 235 23 Derek Lowe (34) R/R 6-6 230 -- Michael Megrew (23) L/L 6-6 210 62 Greg Miller (22) L/L 6-5 220 57 Franquelis Osoria(25) R/R 5-11 200 31 Brad Penny (29) R/R 6-4 260 44 Takashi Saito (37) L/R 6-2 200 50 Eric Stults (27) L/L 6-0 215 35 Brett Tomko (34) R/R 6-2 225 41 Randy Wolf (30) L/L 6-0 205 Catchers age b/t ht wt 22 Toby Hall (31) R/R 6-3 240 55 Russell Martin (24) R/R 5-10 210 Infielders age b/t ht wt 15 Rafael Furcal (29) S/R 5-8 195 5 Nomar Garciaparra(33) R/R 6-0 190 12 Jeff Kent (39) R/R 6-1 210 66 Andy LaRoche (23) R/R 6-1 215 29 James Loney (23) L/L 6-2 220 18 Ramon Martinez (34) R/R 6-0 190 13 Oscar Robles (31) L/R 5-10 185 8 Olmedo Saenz (36) R/R 5-11 220 -- Wilson Valdez (32) R/R 5-11 160 Outfielders age b/t ht wt 21 Marlon Anderson (33) L/R 5-11 200 16 Andre Ethier (25) L/L 6-1 210 27 Matt Kemp (22) R/R 6-2 230 9 Juan Pierre (29) L/L 6-0 180 17 Jason Repko (26) R/R 5-10 190 28 Jayson Werth (28) R/R 6-4 210 49 Delwyn Young (25) S/R 5-8 210