Sometimes, it's hard to imagine why a team is shopping a player on the open market. But many times, the reason comes into focus at some point down the road.
Consider the case of Joe Blanton.
The Phillies have toyed with the idea of trading him this winter, but haven't been able to find a move that worked for them. It seemed odd that the club was shopping the right-hander after he has put together a nice body of work as a Phillie. Then today, the arbitration figures were released; Blanton is asking for $10.25 million, while the Phillies came in at $7.25 million.
Perhaps the chasm in salary was at least part of the reason why the Phillies were making Blanton available. Blanton is looking to almost double his 2009 salary of $5.475 million, which he agreed to with the Phillies last season to avoid arbitration.
It's hard to imagine that the Phillies would lose the case, but the truth is that you just never know. If the arbitrator rules in Blanton's favor, the Phillies payroll takes a somewhat unexpected hit and could force them to look to make a move somewhere to dump some salary. The alternative is that it makes it much tougher salary wise to make a mid-season trade for help if it would involve taking on any salary.
To put Blanton's request in perspective, he's asking for just 13% less than Andy Pettitte got from the Yankees and a higher annual salary than Randy Wolf got on his three-year deal with Milwaukee.
But wait, it gets better; He's asking for $2 million more than the Phillies would have paid Cliff Lee in 2010.
Again - Ouch!
The Phillies $7.25 million offer may be just a tad low, but is much more in line than what Blanton is seeking. It's possible that the two sides will meet in the middle - the exact middle would be $8.75 million - or do a one-year deal with incentives built into the contract.
As for the other two arbitration eligible Phillies, the sides are much closer on those deals. Shane Victorino is asking for $5.8 million and the Phillies are offering $4.75 million. Carlos Ruiz asked for $2.5 million, while the Phillies countered with $1.75 million.
It's very possible that deals with Victorino and Ruiz will get done and the two sides will avoid arbitration. Blanton's case is likely to be much more difficult, unless one side or the other blinks. Blanton may have to wait until after the season and he reaches free agency until he can get the big bucks that he's hoping to find in his bank account.