Every winter teams non-tender players when they would rather risk losing them to another team than go through the potentially expensive arbitration process. In 2010, for example, Matt Capps and Kelly Johnson rewarded their new teams with standout years after being cut loose, though most non-tenders don’t make that kind of contribution.
Teams non-tendered over 50 players last offseason and a handful of them are already proving their worth with new organizations. Here’s a breakdown of which 2010 non-tenders are exceeding expectations in 2011:
- Dustin Moseley, Padres (non-tendered by Yankees) – The 29-year-old leads the league with six losses, but he's been much more effective than his record would indicate. Moseley has a 3.40 ERA with 4.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 through 53 frames.
- Joel Peralta, Rays (non-tendered by Nationals) – Unlike most non-tenders, Peralta was effective last year. After 22 1/3 innings in the Rays' revamped bullpen, he's looking like a smart, low-risk addition. Peralta has a 2.82 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.
- Taylor Buchholz, Mets (though Buchholz has never thrown a pitch for Boston, the Red Sox were technically the ones to non-tender him) – Buchholz is looking a lot like his 2008 self through 21 2/3 innings in the Mets' 'pen. The 29-year-old has a 1.66 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.
- Jose Veras, Pirates (non-tendered by Marlins) – Veras has 26 strikeouts and a 3.06 ERA through 17 2/3 innings. Veras' 13.2 K/9 is seventh-best among MLB relievers this year and few pitchers beat his 94 mph average fastball by much.
- Alfredo Aceves, Red Sox (non-tendered by Yankees) – The Red Sox need him more than ever with two members of their Opening Day rotation on the shelf. So far, Aceves has a 2.60 ERA with 4.7 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 17 1/3 innings.
- Todd Coffey, Nationals (non-tendered by Brewers) – Coffey, who added value in 2009-10, has a 2.30 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 15 2/3 innings.
- Matt Albers, Red Sox (non-tendered by Orioles) – Though Bobby Jenks was the most prominent non-tender who signed with Boston this winter, Albers may be the most impressive. He has a 1.65 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 52.3% ground ball rate through 16 1/3 innings.
- George Sherrill, Braves (non-tendered by Dodgers) – After a poor showing with the Dodgers in 2010, Sherrill is adding value again. He has raised his strikeout rate (10.2 K/9), lowered his walk rate (4.7 BB/9) and has allowed just seven hits and two earned runs in 9 2/3 innings, mostly against left-handed hitters.
- Russell Martin, Yankees (non-tendered by Dodgers) – Arguably the biggest success story of all, Martin drew interest from a number of AL East teams before signing with the Yankees. He has a .261/.362/.479 line and leads qualified MLB catchers in home runs (7), on-base percentage (.362), wOBA (.380) and WAR (1.5). It’s a win-win, as Martin got $4MM in guaranteed money and a fresh start, while the Yankees get a top catcher who’s under team control through 2012. With Jack Cust, Matt Diaz and others off to slow starts, Martin is the lone non-tendered position player making an impact so far this year.