Non-tender deadline not issue for Mets
Club expects to offer contracts to five arbitration-eligible players
LAS VEGAS -- Baseball's non-tender deadline should come and go on Friday night without consequence for the Mets, whose arbitration-eligible players will play significant roles on the team in 2009.
Teams can choose not to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible at any point prior to Friday's midnight ET deadline, making those players free agents. But the Mets have little reason not to retain their eligible players: Ryan Church, John Maine, Pedro Feliciano, Duaner Sanchez and Jeremy Reed.
Church, 30, hit .276 with 12 home runs in 90 games last season, his first with the Mets. He was the team's most productive hitter until a concussion sidelined him in May and created a series of lingering effects that plagued him for the rest of the season. Church, who agreed to a $2 million contract to avoid arbitration last offseason, will enter Spring Training as the starting right fielder.
Maine, 27, is expected to be the third pitcher in a starting rotation that also includes Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey. Coming off right shoulder surgery that prematurely ended his season, Maine will be arbitration-eligible for the first time.
Feliciano, 32, produced a 4.05 ERA and two saves last season as one of the Mets' two primary left-handed relievers. He also avoided arbitration last season by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $1.025 million.
Sanchez, 29, will begin his second full season since missing a year and a half after two surgeries on his pitching shoulder. General manager Omar Minaya has said publicly that he expects Sanchez to be more successful this season, especially now that the presence of Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz will allow him to pitch earlier in games.
"Sanchez is a guy we have to wait on," Minaya said. "Before he got hurt, he was one of the best setup guys in the game."
Reed, 27, is the outfielder the Mets received as part of the 12-player trade Wednesday that also landed them Putz. He is expected to assume Endy Chavez's role as a fourth outfielder.
Those five players can all file for salary arbitration from Jan. 5-15, and the Mets must exchange salary figures with them by Jan. 19. If both parties cannot agree to a contract in the ensuing weeks, they will enter arbitration hearings from Feb. 1-21 to determine 2009 salaries. Yet the Mets have a history of avoiding such hearings.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.