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Arbitration Cases Won't "Reshape" Red Sox Off-Season Plans

General manager Ben Cherington and the rest of the Red Sox front office have prepared for the possibility that both David Ortiz and Alfredo Aceves will end up in arbitration before the season starts. Aceves is eligible for arbitration by virtue of being under team control, while Ortiz elected to accept arbitration rather than test the free agent market.

The gap between Aceves and the Red Sox is not significant in terms of baseball budgets -- Aceves filed at $1.6 million, while the Red Sox offered $900,000 -- so it's more likely this one will avoid an actual arbitration hearing. Arguing over a few hundred thousand dollars isn't something either party wants to be involved in, especially with this just being the first of three winters where Aceves is arbitration eligible.

Ortiz and the Red Sox aren't on the same plane of existence, though, with Boston filing at $12.65 million --slightly more than Ortiz made in 2010 -- while Ortiz submitted a figure of $16.5 million. Ortiz's 2011 salary was the single highest he's ever made in a season, and while his campaign was excellent, two things work against the number he filed: Boston paid him far more than similarly-producing (and similarly-aged) designated hitters received on the open market by picking up his option: Hideki Matsui and Vladimir Guerrero combined for just $11.86 million in 2011, despite all three players having very similar 2010 campaigns in their mid-30s. While Ortiz was much better than the two in 2011, he was also compensated to be that way. The Red Sox attempting to give him a raise of $150,000 seems like a low ball offer until you recognize that he was paid to do what he did already.

That's a discussion for another day, though. The key item to take away from this news is this particular quote from Cherington:

"I don't think [the results of the cases are] significant, no," said Cherington. "Sure, if you go to a hearing there's a chance you win, a chance you lose. Depending on the outcome, it changes your payroll to some degree. To that extent, it changes things to some degree, but I wouldn't say it's significant."

As of this writing, there is a poll on the sidebar at Over the Monster asking if you would rather have David Ortiz for the money he filed for in arbitration, or Kevin Youkilis at DH and Roy Oswalt in the rotation for a few million more. Considering what kind of player Oswalt is (and by extension, the other starting pitchers that Boston has been shopping for at this late date), the term "significant" that Cherington uses likely applies.

The hypothetical in the poll isn't a worry for the Red Sox, as they have already budgeted a loss in arbitration to both Ortiz and Aceves into their plans -- that means it shouldn't be a worry for Sox fans, either.