CINCINNATI -- At Friday's midnight deadline, the Reds decided to offer salary arbitration to free agents Rich Aurilia and Scott Schoeneweis. The club declined to offer arbitration to free agent relievers David Weathers, Eddie Guardado and Kent Mercker. Under the new collective bargaining rules, Aurilia and Schoeneweis have until Dec. 7 to accept or decline the arbitration offers. If they accept, they would be bound to return to Cincinnati for another year.
That seemed unlikely, however. Aurilia was reportedly close to signing a new two-year contract that would return him to the Giants. A lefty reliever in demand on a barren market, Schoeneweis has been linked to several clubs and his chances for returning were diminished when the Reds signed Mike Stanton late last month. By offering arbitration to Aurilia and Schoeneweis, the Reds are assured to receive compensation draft picks if and when they are signed by another club. The departure of Aurilia, considered a "Type-A" free agent, would bring Cincinnati a first-round draft pick in return if he is signed by San Francisco. Schoeneweis is a "Type-B" free agent. Until the new rules, not being offering arbitration does not close the door for Weathers, Guardado and Mercker to return to the Reds. The team can continue to negotiate with those players but would not receive compensation if they sign elsewhere. In previous winters, the Reds' decision would have meant the three players couldn't re-sign with the clubs until after May 1.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.