Tender Mercies

Last night, the deadline to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players came, and went.  San Diego had 10 players in this bucket, running the gambit from ‘no doubt he’ll get tendered a contract’ to ‘well, I guess we’ll see what happens’.

The ten were Chase Headley, Eric Stults, Tim Stauffer, Luke Gregerson, Ian Kennedy, Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Everth Cabrera, Kyle Blanks, and Jesus Guzman.  Turned out, all 10 were offered contracts for next year.

Stults and Stauffer signed one-year contracts with the team, as reported by Corey Brock, Bill Center, and elsewhere.  Everyone else is now in the first phase of the arbitration kabuki dance.  Based on last year’s performance, it’s highly likely Headley, Cashner, and Cabrera will submit to arbitration, meaning they’ll exchange salary figures in January.  Headley’s case will be mostly based on prior to 2013 performance, but Cashner and Cabrera will push the superior years they had last season.  Everth’s 50-game suspension will make for an interesting discussion point between Byrnes and Boras.  I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation if it gets that far.  No Padre went to the hearing last season.

Gregerson, Kennedy, Ross?  They’ll probably not get to that point; I’d be mildly surprised if they submit for arbitration.

That brings us to Blanks and Guzman.  No way they submit for arbitration.  My initial reaction was why did they get tendered at all?

I think making Blanks’ case is easier.  I can at least justify it in my own mind.  He’s only 27, but he’s been injured a lot.  It would be cool to see what he can do if healthy for a full season.  He’s a league average hitter (by OPS) deriving all his value from his power (his ISO was .136, seventh on the team among players with at least 300 PA).  On the other side of the coin, he plays first.  The Padres already have Yonder Alonso entrenched there.  He also plays LF, where Carlos Quentin (+4 by Bill James’ plus/minus metric) is a better fielder than Blanks (-1, albeit in 20% of the innings Carlos played).

He’s a low-value (0.3 WAR) guy who is still young-ish; worth keeping if for no other reason than organizational depth.  And, he might break out someday, although that window has to be closing.  Higher upside than Guzman = keep him around on a 1-year contract.

Guzman? Like Blanks, he plays first and left.  He’s a worse fielder at both positions than Kyle is.  He’s 29.  He makes decent contact – at least, better than Kyle, using the archaic batting average as a metric.  His OPS+ is slightly below average and slightly below Blanks’ for 2013 (his career OPS+ is higher, thanks to his excellent 2011 campaign). Interestingly his ISO (.153) is better than Blanks was in 2013.  I discussed about Guzman in my last post and, other than a possible repeatable skill in high-leverage situations, he’s not that great a hitter.

Guzman seemed to be an excellent candidate to get non-tendered.  If the club wanted him back, they could get him at a lower rate.  I can’t imagine there will be a lot of demand for Jesus Guzman on the open market.  Guzman made $503K last year; is he worth Mark Kotsay money ($1.25M)?  Would he get Kotsay-level money via this process?  Maybe the Padres figured the hassle of non-tender negotiations wasn’t worth it to save $700K.  Who knows.

Looks like Christmas came early for Jesus Guzman.

UPDATE:  Guess we don’t have to worry about Gregerson anymore; he’s been traded to Oakland for Seth Smith. Smith played a half-way decent LF for the A’s last year; +2 runs saved in 382 innings.  Your move, Quentin…

And everything under the sun is in tune; but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

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