Cards make no arbitration offers
Club will not receive Draft picks if free agents sign elsewhere
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals didn't have to push it to the last minute. They knew what they wanted to do. St. Louis elected not to offer arbitration to any of its unsigned free agents.
That means that Russ Springer, Braden Looper and Jason Isringhausen can sign with any other team and the Cardinals will not receive compensation in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. The deadline for offering arbitration is 10:59 p.m. CT on Monday.
Springer is a Type A free agent, while Looper and Isringhausen are Type B free agents. Thus, had the team offered arbitration, it could have received two Draft picks if Springer had signed elsewhere, or one for Looper or Isringhausen.
The downside, from the club's perspective, is that if it had offered arbitration to any of those players, the player could have accepted, which is tantamount to signing a 2009 contract at a salary that can be determined by an arbitrator.
"The big thing for us is we want to remain flexible and also look at what we feel might be the best way to improve this team," general manager John Mozeliak said on Monday. "The one thing that I was cautious about was, if we decide to offer arbitration, there is a chance they might have accepted. Especially if you look at the pace of this market to date."
In the case of Isringhausen, it was an easy decision, because he is coming off a season when he was beset by injuries and ineffectiveness. It's difficult to imagine Isringhausen declining arbitration if it had been offered.
For Looper, however, the decision was something of a surprise. Following consecutive effective seasons, Looper might well receive multiple years on the open market, which would decrease his incentive to take the one-year deal resulting from accepting arbitration.
But in a slow-moving market, the equation for many free agents may be different than it might have previously looked.
"I think the likelihood [of accepting arbitration] is higher than it may have even been a month ago," Mozeliak said.
Then there's Springer, who has expressed a desire to return to St. Louis. As the only Type A, he's the one free agent whose movement could have been restricted by an arbitration offer. A team that signs a Type A free agent must surrender a Draft pick to the player's former team, as opposed to the Type B compensation, which comes in a supplementary round.
Some teams might have been scared off by the combination of the cost of signing Springer and the loss of a first-round pick.
St. Louis has five other free agents who are not rated Type A or Type B. Mark Mulder, Juan Encarnacion, Felipe Lopez, Cesar Izturis and Ron Villone were also not offered arbitration.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.