Could These Non-Tender Candidates Help The Mets

An article by posted on December 2, 2010

Today is ”Non-Tender Day,” and by midnight tonight, the free agent pool is expected to get a little bigger.

Here is an interesting spattering of players who are each expected to be non-tendered by Thursday’s deadline as presented by Doug Miller of MLB.com.

J.J. Hardy, SS, Twins: Rumored to be a non-tender candidate all season, Hardy’s prospects of being offered a 2011 contract by Minnesota seemed to take a hit when it was revealed last week that the Twins placed the winning bid for exclusive negotiating rights with Japanese shortstop and 2010 batting champion Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Even though Hardy was limited to 101 games last season because of a wrist injury and will be in line for a raise from the $5.1 million he made in 2010, the latest word is that he won’t be non-tendered — although that could mean the Twins have plans to trade him.

Bobby Jenks, RHP, White Sox: Chicago’s World Series closer from 2005 made $7.5 million last year, put up a career-high 4.44 ERA, and is in his third year of arbitration eligibility. Those facts add up to the 29-year-old being a strong candidate to be saving games somewhere else in 2011.

Russell Martin, C, and George Sherrill, LHP, Dodgers: This pair of Dodgers makes for an intriguing duo of likely non-tenders. Martin’s production was down before he suffered a hip fracture that ended his 2010 campaign, and he’ll probably be due for a salary north of $6 million next year. GM Ned Colletti might decide to go elsewhere, which very much seems to be the situation with Sherrill, who made $4.5 million last year, and despite crooked overall numbers, still took care of lefty hitters (.192/.286/.288) in 2010.

Jose Lopez, 2B/3B, Mariners: Coming off a 25-homer, 96-RBI season in 2009, Lopez regressed at the plate, hitting 10 homers and batting .239 with a .270 on-base percentage and .609 OPS. He made $3 million last year, and if Seattle believes super-prospect Dustin Ackley is ready to take over at second base, the club would move Chone Figgins to third, paving the way for Lopez to start anew in a different big league city.

Hideki Okajima, LHP, Red Sox: He’s going to be 35 next season, made $2.75 million last year, and had by far his roughest year in the Majors, with a 1.717 WHIP and a career-low 33 strikeouts. His ERA also has gone up in each of his four big league seasons, which might make it easier for Boston to look elsewhere for less expensive and younger lefty-specialist help.

John Maine, RHP, Mets: Maine made $3.3 million last year and could probably be retained for less since he’s coming off shoulder surgery, but new Mets GM Sandy Alderson might find it in the best interest of the team to try to spend the same amount of money on a pitcher who hasn’t had two consecutive injury-shortened campaigns.

Fred Lewis, OF, Blue Jays: Lewis hit eight homers and stole 17 bases last season and still considers himself an everyday player at the age of 29. But the Jays acquired Rajai Davis from Oakland and already have Vernon Wells and others who could man outfield positions, including 2010 American League MVP candidate Jose Bautista and Travis Snider. Lewis might have to find that consistent playing time somewhere else.

Travis Buck, OF; Jack Cust, DH; Conor Jackson, OF; and Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, A’s: It’s never easy to predict what A’s GM Billy Beane might do when it comes to personnel, but one thing you can always count on is that he’ll try to do things in an economical fashion.

Buck hasn’t been on the A’s everyday radar for years and is a natural non-tender contender. Cust was non-tendered and re-signed last year and could very well do the same in 2011. It remains to be seen what the A’s will make of Jackson, the once-promising D-backs hitter who suffered from injuries and Valley Fever last year. And Kouzmanoff’s sub-.700 OPS and $3.1 million salary in 2010 have put him on the bubble, too.

Jeff Mathis, C, Angels: With young catcher Hank Conger on the rise and Mike Napoli’s situation still unresolved (the Angels could package Napoli in a trade or keep him to start behind the plate until Conger is ready), the Angels could say goodbye to Mathis, who made $1.3 million in 2010 and batted .195 while missing two months because of injuries.

Dioner Navarro, C, Rays: Count Navarro on the very likely list of non-tender candidates. He made $2.1 million last year, the Rays found a starter — and occasional leadoff man — in John Jaso, and Navarro didn’t exactly thrill the team’s brass when he declined the Rays’ request to work out and be ready for possible use in the playoffs after he learned he’d been left off the roster for the Division Series.

Kyle Davies, RHP, Royals: Davies said he turned a corner as a starter, but his 8-12 record and 5.34 ERA didn’t exactly agree with that, nor did his $1.8 million salary that’s sure to go up next year. And then the Royals traded outfielder David DeJesus to the A’s for young righty Vin Mazzaro, which makes it difficult to see where Davies stands with the Royals for 2011.

Actually, I find the list a little underwhelming, but I guess if there were any real jewels they probably wouldn’t be non-tendered by their teams.

The one player on this list I do like a lot is left handed reliever George Sherrill. As long as he is used solely against left handed batters, he would be as effective as Pedro Feliciano.

Fred Lewis would also be a solid pick up as a fourth or fifth outfielder. He can play all three outfield positions, has a little bit of pop, nice speed, and can get on base. He has a career .272/.348/.418/.766 slash line, and if the price is right, the Mets should bring him on board.

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