The issue that seems to have agitated the populace over at the big boat Mariner isn’t whether Seattle will land Erik Bedard but why the team didn’t offer salary arbitration to outfielder Jose Guillen.
If they had, the argument goes, they’d have picked up a supplemental draft pick when the Kansas City Royals signed Guillen in the wee hours Tuesday morning.
The online concensus: GM Bill Bavasi and his staff are all boneheads.
Why else wouldn’t they offer Guillen arbitration? Simple, they suspected he’d take them up on it – and there’s evidence he would have.
The offer Guillen accepted Tuesday had been on the table for more than 10 days and hadn’t changed. Guillen didn’t accept it until after the Mariners declined to offer him arbitration.
Had the Mariners offered, and had Guillen accepted, the Mariners would have had to offer one figure, Guillen and agent Adam Katz another – and an arbiter would have picked one salary for the 2008 season.
That means Guillen might have asked for and won as much as $11 million from a team that a) had no room for him in its outfield and b) didn’t really want him back.
Why would Guillen choose arbitration for one season over a three-year deal with the Royals? First, he wanted to come back and, say teammates who have talked with him, wouldn’t have minded surprising the Seattle front office by accepting arbitration.
And second, he has genuine affection for manager John McLaren and hitting coach Jeff Pentland and thoroughly enjoyed his time as a Mariner.
Bavasi and his staff knew all this. The financial risk wasn’t minor – it would have been more than $8 million had they offered arbitration and won their case. Instead, Guillen is a Royal and the Mariners wish him well.