Arbitration deadline could decide a lot

Tuesday is the day for clubs to decide whether to offer salary arbitration to their free agents.

For the Red Sox, the big decision will be whether to offer arbitration to Billy Wagner. It seems likely they will. If Wagner accepts, the Sox will have a premier set-up man. If not, they will get two draft picks as compensation if he signs with another team. That’s a win-win.

The Sox also will be paying close attention to Toronto and what the Blue Jays do with Marco Scutaro.

Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail hears that Toronto will offer arbitration to Scutaro. That makes sense, as the Blue Jays will want the draft picks in return.

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If Scutaro comes at the cost of their first-round draft pick, will the Sox still want him? He is 34 and coming off a career year. Odds are against a repeat of what he did (.282/.379/.409 ) last season. His OPS was 42 points higher than ever before.

Wagner and Scutaro hope they will not be offered arbitration, as that would depress their value in the eyes of some teams. Most GMs would rather have a cost-effective first-round pick than a 34-year-old shortstop with a career .337 OBP and what at best is an acceptable glove.

You have to wonder if Theo Epstein has some sort of trade in mind to find a shortstop. Either that or it’s take a chance Jed Lowrie can stay healthy and Epstein has made it clear he does not want to take that route.