In a bad economy, many teams are going to face tough choices on how to budget their funds to build the best teams possible. Many intelligent teams are trending toward locking their talented young players up early, and avoiding the arbitration process as much as possible. For some players who are eligible for arbitration, the fact that tendering them a contract would assure they are paid at least 80% of their prior years salary makes their future with their club somewhat cloudy. Many won't recieve a contract offer, while others will likely be moved for financial reasons before salary figures are exchanged. Browsing Cot's, I've come up with a list of guys that may be available this offseason due to arbitration issues.
Jack Cust - He's a solid bat, but he should really be DH'ing. Making 2.8 million this season, he'll likely get a raise in his 2nd season of arbitration. Depending on what Billy Beane decides to do this offseason, Cust could easily be traded to make room for Brett Wallace to make his way to the majors. His value may be lower than it should be due to the raise he'll likely recieve and the renewed defensive focus of most clubs.
Noah Lowry - He made 4.75 million this year, and there's no chance SF tenders him a contract this offseason. He'll likely get a minor league contract somewhere. Could be worth a look, as Buffalo certainly could use the help.
Dan Uggla - He won't be non-tendered, but he is a prime candidate to be traded. He makes 5.35 million, and is entering his 2nd arbitration year. He'd be unlikely to be on this list if he played for any other team, but the Marlins likely can't afford to retain him. They have several other options at 2nd, and getting several players without service time will likely be what they target. The Mets could put him at 1st, or use him at 2nd if they move Castillo.
Jorge Cantu - Making 3.5 million this year, he's been good enough that he'll likely get a raise. He'd likely be offered a contract with most teams, but he may be another player too expensive for the Marlins. With Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco both due decent raises this year, the Marlins may be fored to take the best offer they get for Cantu. If he doesn't cost much, he'd be a nice stopgap until Ike is ready.
Jeremy Hermida - Made 2.25 million this season in his 1st year of arbitration. He's a decent hitter that can play either outfield corner. He's likely to be available becuase he's in Florida (who reportedly wants to give more AB's to Maybin), and likely wouldn't cost much to acquire. I'd love to see the Mets go after him if they aren't going to go after Holliday.
Alfredo Amezega - He made 1.3 million entering his final year of arbitration, but if he's not the starting 2nd baseman for tham next year, he's unlikely to be back. The Marlins likely can't afford that type of contract for a utility guy. What happens with the other Marlins will affect Amezega. He'd certainly be a better use of 2 million bucks than Alex Cora.
Scott Olsen - made 2.8 million this year and wasn't very good. He's also got a history of being a generally bad guy. Almost a certainty to be non-tendered, and he likely will have to take a minor league deal. He's another guy that would look good in one of these.
Luke Scott - He won't be non-tendered, but he may very well be traded. The Orioles have a very good young outfield, and could use some other ML ready pieces in other areas. He made 2.4 million in his 2nd arbitration season. He'd be able to play either 1st or LF at a reasonable price, and the Mets would still control him for 2 seasons. He's probably worth a look.
Joe Blanton - He made 5.475 million entering his last year of arbitration. He's pitched well enough to earn a raise, but most would agree that he's probably not worth what he'll get. The Phillies have alot of money commited next season after Lee's option is picked up and Victorino's raise. If they tender Blanton a contract, it likely means they won't be involved in much this offseason. I doubt he's released, and it's even more unlikely he is traded to the Mets. He'd be one of the better pitchers available if he hits the market.
Grant Balfour - He hasn't been good this year, and he made 1.4 million. Can the Rays afford to pay a relief pitcher that much coming off a down year? He'd look nice in the pen next to this Rays re-tread.
Garrett Atkins - He made 7.05 million this year and has 1 more year of arbitration. It's unlikely that the Rockies will get an offer for him, he'll likely be non-tendered. He could be worth a look at 1st.
Mark Teahan - He's a decent hitter without a defensive home. KC has several players like him, and may try to move him if they fear he'd get a raise from his 3.575 million dollar salary. KC may not be able to afford that for a utility player in his walk year. He'd be a good player to have, but maybe not at his salary.
Mike Jacobs - He hits home runs, but doesn't do much else. Even KC has to think twice about bringing him back at more than 3.275 million. He'd make an awfully nice pich hitter late in games.
Bobby Jenks - He made 5.6 million this season, but has been on the decline for several years. He won't be non-tendered but he may be traded. He shouldn't even be considered, but he could affect the Billy Wagner market so it bears watching.
Chien-Ming Wang - He made 5 million this year, and may not have a place in a very crowded Yankee rotation if they want to use Hughes and Joba there. He could very well be non-tendered, but the Yankees might not need to worry about his salary so who really knows. One to watch though, as he is younger than most pitchers available and throws strikes.
Casey Kotchman - He made 2.885 million this year, and won't be very high on Boston's depth chart at first base. He's out of options and could be traded for youngsters or non-tendered if Boston needs 40 man roster space to protect prospects or sign a free agent or two. He probably won't cost much to acquire, and won't be too expensive if he hits the market.
Not all of these guys will be fits for the Mets, but there are certainly some names on that list that could help. With a relatively weak free agent class, some of these guys could be excellent additions. Feel free to discuss who you think would help and who you think may be available.