Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes were offered salary arbitration Wednesday, guaranteeing their teams two extra draft picks next year if they sign with new clubs.
The Toronto Blue Jays meanwhile offered arbitration to second baseman Kelly Johnson, catcher Jose Molina and relievers Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch.
Reliever Shawn Camp was the lone free agent who went without an arbitration offer.
Teams offered 26 players arbitration, of which six were Type A free agents. A new club signing one of those premier players would lose a top pick in June's amateur draft, and a team that offers arbitration and loses one of those players would get two extra selections as compensation.
Pujols (St. Louis), Fielder (Milwaukee) and Reyes (Mets) received offers, along with Boston designated hitter David Ortiz, Texas left-hander C.J. Wilson and Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins. They have until Nov. 30 to accept.
The Brewers also offered arbitration to right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez while declining to offer arbitration to shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt.
Fielder, who finished third behind teammate Ryan Braun and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp in NL MVP voting, is seeking a long-term deal and is not considered likely to accept arbitration.
The Phillies declined to offer arbitration to right-hander Roy Oswalt, the only Type A player turned down.
Reliever Jonathan Papelbon, the eighth Type A player, already has left Boston to sign a $50-million US, four-year deal with the Phillies. The Red Sox will receive draft-pick compensation for losing Papelbon.
San Diego offered arbitration to closer Heath Bell, who had been a Type A player but was reclassified under Tuesday's labour deal. If he signs elsewhere, the Padres will gain two draft picks, but Bell's new club won't lose any. Also in that category are relievers Ryan Madson (Philadelphia) and Francisco Rodriguez (Milwaukee), outfielders Michael Cuddyer (Minnesota) and Josh Willingham (Oakland), and Toronto's Johnson.
Also offered arbitration were Padres pitcher Aaron Harang, Chicago White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle, St. Louis right-hander Edwin Jackson, Yankees right-hander Freddy Garcia, Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez, Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena, Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, Red Sox right-hander Dan Wheeler; Twins outfielder Jason Kubel; Oakland outfielder David DeJesus and Pittsburgh first baseman Derrek Lee.
Ramirez's agent has already said his client will not return to the Cubs. The third baseman batted .306 last season with 26 homers and 93 RBIs.
Pena, who played under a one-year, $10 million deal last season, hit .225 with 28 homers and 80 RBIs while playing a stellar first base.
Three free agents agreed to contracts. Left-hander Bruce Chen stayed with Kansas City for a $9-million, two-year deal; outfielder Grady Sizemore remained with Cleveland for a $5-million, one-year contract; and catcher Ryan Doumit left Pittsburgh for a $3-million, one-year agreement with Minnesota.
In other arbitration cases:
- The Oakland Athletics have offered arbitration to free-agent outfielder Josh Willingham. Willingham had career highs of 29 home runs and 98 RBIs — most by an A's player since Frank Thomas's 114 in 2006 — and likely will have plenty of suitors.
- The San Francisco Giants have declined to offer salary arbitration to free-agent outfielders Cody Ross and Pat Burrell. The moves Wednesday mean the Giants will not receive compensation if Ross or Burrell sign with another team. The Giants still could re-sign Ross, but Burrell has said he will likely retire because his troublesome right foot hasn't healed. Burrell batted .230 with seven homers and 21 RBIs in 92 games last season.
As part of baseball's new labour agreement, 11 free agents had their draft-pick compensation reduced or eliminated in an effort to increase interest among teams in the marketplace.
According to the 1981 statistical formula that is being eliminated, 21 players originally were classified as Type A free agents, which means they would cost a club signing them its first-round pick in next June's amateur draft.
That number was reduced to eight under Tuesday's agreement: Prince Fielder, David Ortiz, Roy Oswalt, Jonathan Papelbon, Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins and C.J. Wilson.
The former teams must offer salary arbitration to these players by midnight ET at the end of Wednesday in order to receive compensation. Papelbon already has agreed to a $50-million US, four-year deal with Philadelphia, so the Boston Red Sox will receive draft picks as compensation for losing the reliever.
Two Type A players, Carlos Beltran and Takashi Saito, may not be offered arbitration because of provisions in their expired contracts.
Five players were reclassified as Type B, and their former clubs do not have to offer arbitration to receive draft-pick compensation: Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Octavio Dotel, Ramon Hernandez and Darren Oliver.
For six players, a signing team won't lose draft picks but if a former team offers arbitration and the player declines, the old club will receive additional draft picks: Heath Bell, Michael Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Madson, Francisco Rodriguez and Josh Willingham.
— The Associated Press