Most non-tenders don’t come back to haunt their former clubs, but they definitely have the potential to do so. Valuable players such as Alfredo Aceves, Russell Martin and Edwin Encarnacion have been non-tendered in recent years, to name a few.
Every winter teams non-tender players for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the clubs would rather risk losing the players to rival teams than go through the potentially expensive arbitration process. In other cases, teams don't have 40-man roster spots to spare or they view players as injury risks.
Teams non-tendered 29 players last offseason and a handful of them have added value for their current organizations. Here’s a look at some 2011 non-tenders who are contributing so far in 2012 (minimum 10 innings pitched or 25 plate appearances):
- Jose Mijares, Royals (non-tendered by the Twins) - The 27-year-old has a 2.45 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 14 2/3 innings for the Royals. Mijares could become a midseason trade candidate, as teams are sure to be seeking left-handed relievers this summer.
- Luke Scott, Rays (non-tendered by the Orioles) - You can't fault the Orioles for non-tendering Scott, who struggled through shoulder problems in 2011 and would have earned $6.4MM or more through arbitration. But the Rays are enjoying his power: seven homers and a .238/.296/.514 batting line.
- Joe Saunders, Diamondbacks (non-tendered by the Diamondbacks) - The Diamondbacks non-tendered Saunders, then re-signed him to a one-year deal. He has rewarded them with a 3.43 ERA through 44 2/3 innings.
- Mike Baxter, Mets (non-tendered by the Mets) - The Mets removed Baxter from the 40-man roster at the non-tender deadline before re-signing him to a minor league deal a few days later. He has a .990 OPS as a corner outfielder through his first 31 plate appearances of the season.
- Jeff Keppinger, Rays (non-tendered by the Giants) - The versatile Keppinger has appeared at first, second and third base while posting a .291/.321/.405 batting line with his new team. Manager Joe Maddon finds playing time for Keppinger when the Rays are up against left-handed pitching.