Yankees offer arbitration to four

Yankees offer arbitration to four

NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte and Luis Vizcaino were offered salary arbitration by the Yankees on Saturday, as well as two players who are nearing new agreements with the club: Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera.

The moves, taking place on a deadline day that no longer holds nearly as much significance following new collective bargaining agreements, ensure that the Yankees would be eligible to receive compensation in the form of Draft picks should Pettitte or Vizcaino sign with other clubs.

Pettitte, a Type A free agent, has already stated that he will either pitch for the Yankees in 2008 or retire. The left-hander won 15 games this season while compiling a 4.05 ERA.

It is not believed that the Yankees' arbitration offer will impact Pettitte's mind-set toward returning to the club, which was characterized this week by catcher Jorge Posada, who claimed that Pettitte is "leaning toward retirement." Pettitte's agent, Randy Hendricks, said that he had anticipated the Yankees' arbitration offer even though the club has a standing $16 million offer to return in 2008.

"I already knew they were going to offer it," Hendricks said in an e-mail.

The Yankees have also stated their interest in re-signing Vizcaino, a Type B free agent who made a career-high 77 appearances in 2007, his first year with the club. If Vizcaino ends up with another team, offering arbitration would entitle the Yankees to a supplemental first-round pick.

Players have until Dec. 7 to accept the offers. Under the collective bargaining agreement, clubs retain the right to negotiate or enter into a contract agreement with any of their free agents, regardless of whether arbitration was offered. There are no deadlines for such negotiations or agreements; formerly, clubs declining to offer arbitration to their own free agents could not re-sign those players until May 1.

The Yankees did not offer salary arbitration to right-hander Roger Clemens, who may retire after logging just six victories for New York and bowing out in an aborted AL Division Series start. Also not offered arbitration by the Yankees were catcher Jose Molina (who is nearing finalization of a two-year, $4 million contract), first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and left-handed reliever Ron Villone.

Rodriguez, the reigning American League MVP, is approaching the finalization of a landmark 10-year, $275 million contract to remain in New York, and Rivera has agreed to a three-year, $45 million pact. Since those deals have not been finalized by the club, the arbitration offers are merely procedural.

Hot Stove

In Rodriguez's case, the Yankees had stated for weeks that they intended to offer him arbitration -- not in hopes of re-signing A-Rod, who led the Major Leagues with 54 home runs and 156 RBIs, but to obtain two compensatory Draft picks from the club that eventually signed him.

Those comments were made before Rodriguez reversed the course of negotiations with the Yankees, personally approaching club brass and opening the path to a deal that could wind up being worth as much as $305 million by its 2018 conclusion through the achievement of several historically-based incentive clauses.

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