Last year, Eddie Bajek of Detroit Tigers Thoughts reverse engineered the rankings used by The Elias Sports Bureau used for classifying Free Agents in terms of draft pick compensation (Type A or B). He now provides the rankings to MLB Trade Rumors. For the current standings, see here.
So what are the Mets looking at? Here are the ranked players due a shot at Free Agency this offseason on the current Mets roster:
Billy Wagner - Type A Score: 78.932
Amazingly, despite missing about a full season since Tommy John Surgery last year, Wagner has maintained his Type A status, and comfortably so. Being that his return seems imminent, he could present the Mets an interesting opportunity in the offseason. The rule that any arbitration offer to a player must be at least 80% of his previous year's salary does not stand for Free Agents, only players with 2-6 years of service time.
There really isn't much downside to offering Wagner arbitration. The $1 million buyout on his option is already in the bank. If you offer him arbitration, he can shop around, see if he can get a better offer and net you some draft picks, or he can come back on a one year deal, preferably in the $2-3 million range at most.
Carlos Delgado - Type B Score: 65.000
What to do with Mr. Delgado? His recent medical setback means we probably won't get any kind of look at him before the offseason. But being that he's missed so much time, this doesn't necessarily hurt the value of an arbitration offer. His market value won't be very high. If he accepts, you're risking 20% of his accepted salary to get a look at him in the Spring, at which point you can release him if he's ineffective. If he's healthy, there's a good chance he'll be more than worth a fairly minimal salary, and the commitment would be minimal as well.
Brian Schneider - Type B Score: 64.082
Interesting Dilemma here. There is significant risk Brian would accept an arbitration offer. Being that he only would net one pick if he declined, its probably not worth the chance. But then again, it might be. Superficially, pairing Schneider with Josh Thole, another left handed catcher seems unwise. But one of Thole's specialties in the minors has been hammering left handed pitching. And wouldn't Schneider be a better choice to groom Thole defensively than Omir Santos?
Gary Sheffield - Type B Score: 58.71
While with some arbitration scenarios there seems to be little to lose, Sheffield is a case where there is little to gain. The likelihood that he signs with another team in the offseason is fairly low, and there's little chance he'll be an asset at whatever salary figure arbitration might bestow upon him. He was worth the six-figure gamble, but he's not worth more.
Fernando Tatis - N/A Score: 53.98
Tatis may not be ranked, but he's fairly close to the cutoff for 1B/OF, which currently sits with Ben Francisco at 56.77. Things are a bit trickier with Tatis than with Sheff should he sneak into Type B status. He actually is likely to play next year, and as a Type B, other teams don't have to risk their draft picks to court him. He's not someone I really want back, but he won't earn much money and can play multiple positions. Would I prefer Nick Evans for the bench? Yes please, but for the possibility of a draft pick, risking another year of Tatis isn't an awful idea.
J.J. Putz - N/A Score: 52.933
Putz probably doesn't have much chance at working his way to Type B status at this point. He'd have to come back healthy quite soon and pitch very well. But if he did, his situation wouldn't be all that different from Wagner's. There wouldn't be much risk in making an arbitration offer. You either collect a draft pick or take a low risk, high reward gamble.