Non-Tender Candidate: Cody Ross

When the Giants were awarded Cody Ross on waivers last month, it likely increased Ross' chances of being tendered a contract for 2011. If the Marlins were willing to give Ross up for nothing but salary relief, they may have decided to part ways with Ross this winter rather than going to arbitration with him once more. The Giants, on the other hand, have a crowded outfield now, but Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell, and Jose Guillen will be free agents after the season, meaning there should be room for Ross if the Giants choose to retain him.

Ross, who will turn 30 this winter, is earning $4.45MM this season and will be entering his final year of arbitration eligibility. He'll receive a raise, but not one as significant as last year's $2.225MM bump. After hitting .266/.319/.477 and averaging 23 homers per season in 2008 and 2009, he has seen his power numbers drop this year (.261/.315/.393, 11 homers). Still, UZR ranks Ross as an above-average defender, and paying him $5-6MM would hardly cripple the Giants' payroll.

Ross' future in San Francisco could be dictated by how the team decides to replace (or retain) its free agent outfielders. The Giants were occasionally linked to free agents like Jason Bay and Matt Holliday last winter, but they elected to eschew the big names in favor of more affordable players. Given the success they've had with that approach, they could easily try it again, perhaps non-tendering Ross in the hopes of striking gold with an even cheaper option, as they did with Huff ($3MM).

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