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Non-Tender Loving Care

Wednesday is the big MLB deadline for teams to offer their own players salary arbitration or send them down the river in a basket to Non-tenderland, the latter of which renders said players free agents with the privilege of signing with whomever they choose (or who chooses them). The Mets have nine players eligible for arbitration:

  • Endy Chavez (3rd year of eligibility), who is almost certain to return for something more than the $1.7 million he made in 2007. I'm a big Endy fan, but it isn't clear that he is worth the $2.5 million or so he might be awarded in arbitration to provide great defense and little else. That said, I don't think there's any chance the Mets don't bring him back for 2008.
  • Pedro Feliciano (1st year), who could make $1-$2 million and figures to be a key component of the Mets' bullpen again
  • Aaron Heilman (1st year), who is in the same boat as Feliciano in most respects. Some actually believe this will be the year Heilman gets another crack at the starting rotation, but I think that's a pipe dream. I don't really know if he would be any good as a starter, but I do know that he is very good as a reliever. I wouldn't have a problem with the Mets giving him a rotation tryout but I don't really see it happening.
  • Duaner Sanchez (2nd year), a guy the Mets are really hoping can return to anything that remotely resembles his pre-cab ride 2006 form. Filthy didn't pitch at all in 2007 so his return to the back end of the Mets' bullpen is anything but a guarantee.
  • Juan Padilla (1st year), who knows? Some are penciling him into the bullpen already, but the guy hasn't pitched since 2005 when he posted a 1.49 ERA in 36.1 innings with an uninspiring 17/13 K/BB ratio. I'm not holding my breath.
  • Oliver Perez (3rd year), made just $2.3 million last year and should get a bump up to the $5 million range in his final year of arbitration. He is a Scott Boras client and will be a free agent after 2007 2008, and the Mets will try awfully hard to lock him up long term. Boras doesn't normally swing that way, so the Mets have their work cut out for them if they expect to ink him to an extension before he is released to the wolves.
  • Jorge Sosa (3rd year), earned $2.2 million in 2007 and may get bumped up to $3.5 or $4 million. He was a jack-of-all-trades last year, and his role on the 2008 staff is opaquely-defined at this point. I don't think he has any business in the starting rotation (outside of a spot start here and there), and I don't have a lot of faith in him in short relief. His niche may turn out to be long relief/swingman, filling the role that Darren Oliver left behind after 2006 and that Aaron Sele did little to claim as his own last year. You could certainly make the argument that Sosa isn't worth $4 million (I know I would), and the Mets might be better off not tendering him a contract and finding a swingman elsewhere; perhaps via some other team's discarded personnel after the dust settles on Wednesday.
  • Dave Williams (3rd year), is going to pitch in Japan next season for the Yokohama BayStars of the Central League. The Mets actually outrighted Williams to AAA New Orleans back in November so he didn't figure in their plans.
  • David Newhan (3rd year), like Williams was sent to New Orleans at the beginning of November and opted for free agency in lieu of the minor league assignment.
There are usually a handful of interesting names in the non-tender bargain bin, so we'll have to wait and see who other teams deem to be unworthy of the mandatory arbitration salary bump that might be worth taking a flier on.

UPDATE [11:34am]: Johnny Estrada is also arb-eligible (3rd year), and will probably be non-tendered. The Mets will try to find somewhere to trade him, but with Ramon Castro and Brian Schneider already on the ledger for 2008 it would seem that there is no room for Ponch.