The Red Sox offered salary arbitration to three of their seven free agents today: outfielder Johnny Damon, second baseman Tony Graffanino, and third baseman Bill Mueller. They declined to offer arbitration to pitcher Matt Mantei, first baseman Kevin Millar, reliever Mike Myers, and retiring first baseman John Olerud.
The three players have been told they have until Dec. 19 to decide whether to accept arbitration. If they accept, they are considered signed players. If they decline, the club has until Jan. 8 to continue negotiating with them.
The Red Sox are now prohibited from negotiating with the four players they did not offer arbitration to until May 1.
Damon, Graffanino, and Mueller are considered Type-A free agents, so the Sox would get two draft picks as compensation if they sign elsewhere, so it was not a surprise that they would offer arbitration to those three.
Bill Mueller is expected to sign multi-year deal elsewhere and that could also be the case for Graffanino.
It was something of a surprise that Myers was not offered arbitration. Bill Lajoie said the team could only afford to have one reliever who fits in the category of a one-hitter pitcher and they have that in Chad Bradford. A number of teams have expressed interest in Myers, including the Yankees.
In their media briefing session, the Sox acknowledged the possibility that they could make a trade before they leave here involving an everyday position player. That lends credence to the Edgar Renteria trade talks.
Asked about Manny Ramirez, Bill Lajoie said today was not a Manny day and then Craig Shipley added that they have not had talks about David Wells either today.
They said there were “ongoing negotiations” with Damon, but would not confirm that another offer has been made.
Larry Lucchino was still here as of late this afternoon.
The Sox were aware that Houston had elected not to offer arbitration to Roger Clemens.
“I’m sure there are a lot of teams that would like Roger to pitch for them,” Shipley said.
The Sox remain one of the only teams not to have spoken to Arn Tellem about Nomar Garciaparra.