Baseball's non-tender deadline is tomorrow at 11pm CST, and MLBTR will of course have full coverage. Arbitration-eligible players, who typically have at least three but fewer than six years of big league service time, are sometimes cut loose to become free agents before reaching six years. That's non-tendering – the player was not tendered a contract by his team. A team can non-tender a player for various reasons, but primarily it's done because the player is injured or the team believes he wouldn't be worth his salary the following year. Most arbitration-eligible players tendered contracts get raises, even after subpar seasons.
David Ortiz, Rick Ankiel, Joel Pineiro, Ryan Franklin, David Eckstein, and Jayson Werth are some of the better-known non-tenders of recent years. A year ago the more interesting names included Ty Wigginton, Joe Nelson, Willy Taveras, Jonny Gomes, and Takashi Saito.
There's talk the free agent market will be flooded with more non-tenders than usual tomorrow, but I'm skeptical. We came up with about 35 candidates, several of whom will be tendered contracts. Here are the more interesting names that stand a chance to be non-tendered:
- Kevin Correia, SP - At this point it appears Correia will either be non-tendered or traded, because the Padres do not want to give him a raise on this year's $1.1MM salary. Correia made 33 starts with a 3.91 ERA, so he'll make decent money on the open market as a mid to back-rotation starter.
- Garrett Atkins, 1B/3B - He has the name value, but his defense and ability to hit away from Coors are in question. This year, he didn't hit at Coors either.
- D.J. Carrasco, RP - Signed by the White Sox to a minor league deal in January of '08, Carrasco led all of baseball this year with 89.3 relief innings. His controllable stats weren't all that different from Brandon Lyon's.
- John Buck, C – Buck doesn't seem much worse than the veteran catchers currently entertaining two-year offers, and he's only 29. He's shown flashes of power at times.
- Jack Cust, DH/OF – Cust is the AL strikeout leader for three years running, but he's also hit at least 25 home runs and drawn at least 90 walks in each of those seasons. He'd fit best in a DH role.
- Ryan Garko, 1B - Garko, 29 in January, has some decent years under his belt but struggled after being traded to the Giants this year. He still handles lefties well.
- Chad Gaudin, SP/RP - Gaudin whiffed a batter per inning before being traded to the Yankees this year, though his control is suspect. He earned $2MM this year.
- Kelly Johnson, 2B – Dealing with a wrist injury, Johnson hit .224/.303/.389 and lost the starting second base job in Atlanta. He's an interesting pickup given his offensive success in the two years prior. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Braves remain undecided on Johnson, with a tender-and-trade not out of the question.
- Dioner Navarro, C – The Rays have Kelly Shoppach now, so they may prefer not to pay Navarro $2MM+. Navarro had a decent year in '08 at .295/.349/.407.
- Brian Tallet, SP/RP – The 32-year-old lefty has control issues but had some respectable years out of Toronto's pen prior to making 25 starts this year. His numbers last year were better than John Grabow's this year.
- Chien-Ming Wang, SP – Wang, 30 in March, had fine years in '06 and '07 as the Yankees' mid-rotation groundball specialist. He had shoulder surgery in July, so the Yankees will non-tender him rather than pay anything close to this year's $5MM salary.
- Jonny Gomes, OF – Like Correia, Gomes would only be non-tendered out of cheapness. He hit .267/.338/.541 in 314 plate appearances for the Reds this year, though he did get to face lefties 35% of the time.