Non-Tenders Contributing With New Teams

The December non-tender deadline is an often-overlooked part of MLB’s offseason schedule, but it’s a significant day. The free agent market is flooded with a couple dozen reinforcements following the annual deadline for teams to extend offers of arbitration to their eligible players. Some of those non-tenders rebound with strong seasons, often in new environments. 

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.

In total 29 players were non-tendered 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:

  • Jose Mijares, Giants (non-tendered by Twins) – The left-hander has a 2.86 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 50 1/3 total innings with the Royals and Giants. He's arbitration eligible again this offseason so he’ll be back in San Francisco — unless the Giants non-tender him again.
  • Aaron Laffey, Blue Jays (non-tendered by Royals) – Laffey has made 11 starts and six relief appearances with the Blue Jays, posting a 4.46 ERA in 78 2/3 innings with Toronto.
  • Joe Saunders, Orioles (non-tendered by Diamondbacks) – The Diamondbacks re-signed Saunders for $6MM — less than he would have obtained going through the arbitration process — and obtained 130 solid innings from him before sending him to Baltimore last month. In 141 2/3 total innings, Saunders has a 4.26 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9.
  • Mike Baxter, Mets (non-tendered by Mets) – The outfielder has a .285/.390/.444 batting line in 172 plate appearances with the Mets. Terry Collins has limited Baxter's exposure to left-handers this year.
  • Jeff Keppinger, Rays (non-tendered by Giants) – As I explained yesterday, Keppinger is adding lots of value with his versatility and bat. The lefty-masher is hitting .328/.375/.443 in 2012.
  • Pedro Ciriaco, Red Sox (non-tendered by Pirates) – Ciriaco has played second base, third base, shortstop and all three outfield positions for the Red Sox this year while posting a .312/.324/.422 batting line and stealing ten bases in as many attempts. An unexpectedly valuable pickup by GM Ben Cherington.
  • Ryan Theriot, Giants (non-tendered by Cardinals) – Theriot has picked up lots of playing time in San Francisco, posting a .265/.314/.313 batting line in 364 plate appearances.
  • Luke Scott, Rays (non-tendered by Orioles) – Scott has 13 home runs but he's hitting just .223/.274/.439 in Tampa Bay and missed time with a strained oblique and back spasms.

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3 Comments on "Non-Tenders Contributing With New Teams"

2 years 11 months ago

Many of these players can be expected to severely regress in 2013 if they even manage to hold onto a MLB job all season. Luke Scott is probably the only name on the list who actually has a chance to improve upon the numbers they put up, because he has a history of success. Saunders..iffy.. Ciriaco has numerable flaws, but speed and the ability to play good defense at 3 IF positions are not any of them, so he should hang around next year. keppinger also should play his miracle year into another full season. Mijares has done pretty well.The rest? All candidates for being gone again by the AS break.

2 years 11 months ago

Baxter has a sweet swing and gets on base. I think he has done very well this year and could continue his success as a platoon guy. Good job by Collins to get him going.

2 years 11 months ago

I’m happy that Keppinger is doing well for the Rays. Had he played that way for the Giants in 2011, they would not have non-tendered him. But 2012 probably won’t repeat. His BABIP is .336 this season vs. career .293 vs. .285 for the three seasons prior. Take 50 points off his BA and he’ll be back around where he hit last season overall.

Also, this is his first season that his dWAR is positive when playing more than 22 games or 67 ABs. He apparently is OK defensively at 3B, so that is what he needs to find, a team that is willing to let him play there, and that would help him stick better in the majors.

Mijares looks like he’s a good reliever, and with Affeldt a free agent, could take Jeremy’s spot in the bullpen if necessary. Plus, he would not be that expensive as a reliever, assuming he pitches like he had most of his career and not as badly as he did in 2011, which was a bad year.

I would not expect the Giants to non-tender him. Even if Affeldt re-signed, I think they would find a spot for Mijares still, as the Giants would have had Runzler on the team had he not been injured so much.