Kevin Youkilis, Kyle Snyder and Javier Lopez were among the Major League players filing for salary arbitration yesterday. You consider this something of a formality, because Theo Epstein has never gone to arbitration with any Red Sox player, and I don’t expect him to start this year. He will either offer each of these players a one-year contract or non-tender them before the arbitration hearings take place.
Youkilis will of course be given a deal, and there is some buzz on whether he will be signed to a multi-year contract this offseason. I think Youkilis is a wonderful player, but you have to remember that single-year deals give the Sox the greatest flexibility; for example, with Mark Teixeira likely to become a free agent after 2008, they might want to look at signing him long-term to play first base. With Youk in just his first arbitration-eligible season, there’s no rush to sign him for big money, and Epstein would only give him a 3-4 year deal if he would give a hometown discount.
I like Snyder a lot, and think he’s a perfectly good swingman to have in the bullpen. Only problem is that we already have Julian Tavarez to fill that role, and he’s even better at it. Unless we trade Tavarez, there’s a chance the Sox let him go and let someone cheaper, like Devern Hansack, take his spot on the 40-man. These are the tough decisions you have to make as a GM.
As for Lopez, I think the Sox should probably non-tender him. He failed miserably as a LOOGY last year, allowing them to hit .293/.366/.439 off of him last season. Surprisingly, he was very effective against righties in 2007, which has not been the case over his career. The only problem here is who we get to replace him. We had Jay Marshall off of waivers from the Athletics, but then they claimed him back in subsequent roster moves. We could give Craig Breslow a shot at this job, but should he fail, we’re looking at Abe Alvarez as the next option. Hmm… We could always fill this position via trade. The remaining free agent options are not so attractive: there’s Jeremy Affeldt, but he wants a 4-5 year deal and a chance to start (now that’s optimism for you). There’s 38-year old Ron Villone and 39-year old Mike Myers. How about Trever Miller or Ray King? No? Didn’t think so. Maybe Lopez isn’t so bad after all…