Free-agent pitcher John Lackey could bring the Angels valuable draft picks… (Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles…)
The Angels, as expected, offered arbitration on Tuesday to pitcher John Lackey and third baseman Chone Figgins, assuring them of maximum draft-pick compensation should the free agents sign elsewhere.
But in something of a surprise, the team did not offer arbitration to veteran reliever Darren Oliver, the 39-year-old left-hander who was 5-1 with a 2.71 earned-run average in 63 games last season, when he earned $3.665 million.
The Angels also did not offer arbitration to outfielder Vladimir Guerrero, so they will not receive a draft pick should the 35-year-old slugger depart after six years in Anaheim.
Lackey and Figgins have until Monday to accept or reject the offer, but Lackey, a 31-year-old right-hander who was 11-8 with a 3.83 ERA in 2009, is the top pitcher on the free-agent market, and Figgins, 31, who batted .298 with a .395 on-base percentage and 114 runs, is among the top position players.
Both are in line for lucrative, multiple-year contracts, so they are both expected to reject arbitration and remain free agents.
However, they could accept arbitration from the Angels, play 2010 on one-year deals with hefty raises from 2009, when Lackey made $9.3 million and Figgins $5.775 million, and hit the free-agent market again next winter.
Lackey and Figgins are Type A free agents, so if they leave, the Angels would receive a first-round draft pick from the teams that sign them, as well as an additional "sandwich" pick between the first and second round for each.
Oliver is also a Type A free agent, and the Angels can continue to negotiate with him, but because he was not offered arbitration the Angels will not receive draft picks should he sign elsewhere.
Guerrero is a Type B free agent, so the Angels would have received only a sandwich pick for him had they offered arbitration.