STEP 1 (C) - EVALUATING YOUR PLAYERS - ARBITRATION/FREE AGENTS
The final thing I will do before beginning to think about the first day of the season (budget day) is to develop a plan for my players that are currently arbitration eligible or free agents to be. I obviously need to know how much I want to spend on these guys before I set my budget.
When looking at arb eligible guys, I look not only at what their arbitration demand is, but I also will hit that "Negotiate Long Term" link and see how much they want per year in a long term deal. If the guy is worth keeping at all (as opposed to simply releasing), I will sign him long term ONLY if his long term per season demand is less than his current arb demand. Otherwise, he goes to arbitration.
When looking at free-agents-to-be, I will also hit that "Negotiate Long Term" button. This is not to see what their demand is (that you can see from the free agency screen), but to find out without having to wait for the email from my team owner whether the guy is a Type A or B free agent. You can find this information in the note section.
Having obtained all of this information, I evaluate who I will arbitrate, who I will sign long term, and who I will simply not resign/release.
With this team, there are no arb eligible players, so that step is skipped. This just goes to show one of my team's major weaknesses - no youth.
As far as free agents, there are a handful. 3 major league position players, ages 31, 31, and 34. Contract demands range from 2.7 to 5.6 million. There is a DH with a nice bat (DH because he is a catcher with a pitch calling in the 20s) and a fielder with 74/60 L/R splits and a good eye. The fielder is a Type B free agent. I simply hope that someone signs the fielder and move on - I don't want to spend money on players over 30, my team is alrady doing way too much of that.
I also check minor league free agent position players and find 3 of them. Two are non-major league prospects with contract demands over 3 million. No need to look at them any further. The third is a catcher who probably will never make the bigs, but has solid defense/pitch calling. He is only 24, and his demands is listed as 54K, meaning he just wants a minor league contract. I like to have 2 active and 1 inactive catcher at each minor league level so I make a note to sign this guy because odds are the prior owner does not have as many catchers in his system as I would like.
On the pitching side, there are 3 major league free agents, all with solid stuff. The best of the 3 is a 30 year old reliever that could be a closer on almost any team. He is only looking for 4.4 million. But, the best part, he is a Type A free agent. Odds are I will get 2 draft picks which I really need. There is also a decent reliever who is Type B - another bonus. Naturally, I am not going to sign any of the 3 - they are all over 30 and want multimillion dollar deals.
Checking minor league pitchers, I find two guys that want multimillion dollar deals. Each of them have a 10 in the durability column. I don't look any further, although one could possibly be converted into a reliever. He wants 6.8 million though, so he won't be doing it for my team.
At this point, it is time to begin figuring out what I want to do for a budget. We still have 7 spots to fill in the league so I will have some time. Once I figure out my budget, I may sat evaluating my minor leagues at least to figure out who down there may have current ratings good enough to help me try to fill out a major league roster for the next year or two while I build a farm system.
Up next -- Figuring out the Budget