Yankees offer arbitration to Villone

Yankees offer arbitration to Villone

NEW YORK -- The Yankees offered arbitration to left-hander Ron Villone on Friday night, assuring themselves of a compensatory draft pick if the reliever signs elsewhere this winter.

Villone, who turns 37 in January, went 3-3 with a 5.04 ERA in 2006, his first season with the Yankees.

The southpaw was acquired by the Yankees in a trade with the Marlins last December, part of a bullpen makeover that also included the acquisition of Kyle Farnsworth and Mike Myers from the free-agent market.

Villone played parts of 12 seasons in the Majors, so he is no stranger to free agency. He signed a two-year contract with the Mariners before the 2005 season then was traded to the Marlins at the trade deadline later that year.

"I've been through this before, so I don't sit around biting my nails," Villone said in an interview last week. "At the same time, I'm kind of on the edge of my seat. Things usually happen pretty quick."

Villone has said several times that he hopes to play for the Yankees next season, and now that is officially his decision to make. Should he choose to accept arbitration, he would guarantee his return to New York for at least one more season. Villone has until Dec. 7 to accept or decline the arbitration offer.

A native of Upper Saddle River, N.J., Villone had a great time playing near his hometown, spending time with family and friends and living in his own house during the season.

"Once you're at home, things change for you," he said. "You feel at home; you're comfortable. At Yankee Stadium, things aren't always comfortable for you until you have success and help the team. The guys I was around this year were a big help, especially Mariano [Rivera]."

Villone had an impressive first half last year, posting a 2.27 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .201 average in 36 appearances. He struggled after the All-Star break, as hitters batted .301 against him and his ERA in 34 outings was 8.35.

The remainder of the Yankees' free agents -- Bernie Williams, Tanyon Sturtze, Octavio Dotel, Craig Wilson, Miguel Cairo, Nick Green and Sal Fasano -- were not offered arbitration before Friday night's deadline, as none of them would have garnered an extra draft pick for New York.

Under the old collective bargaining agreement, any free agent who was not offered arbitration would have been ineligible to re-sign with his former team until May 1. Under the new CBA, free agents not offered arbitration may still sign with their old club at any time.

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.