There's no question that John Maine's season began poorly. He struggled through nine early-season starts and didn't pitch after injuring his shoulder in May. If there was any doubt that he was a non-tender candidate, it disappeared later this summer when it became apparent that he would need season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder.
Before the injury sidelined Maine, he posted a 6.13 ERA in 39.2 innings and walked too many hitters, so the Mets may be reluctant to offer the 29-year-old arbitration. Sure, Maine has potential, but he made $3.3MM this year and would make a comparable amount if the Mets tender him a contract.
Maine is still young and he has been effective in the past, so it's easy to see how the Mets might be tempted to keep him. The right-hander pitched to a 4.01 ERA in 87 starts from 2006-09 with 7.7 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9. That kind of production has value, even if Maine currently sits behind Johan Santana (also recovering from surgery), R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese, Mike Pelfrey and Jenrry Mejia in the team's projected rotation.
If the Mets non-tender Maine, other teams would likely have cautious interest. There are no guarantees for pitchers returning from arthroscopic shoulder surgery, as another non-tender candidate knows well. Chien-Ming Wang, who underwent a similar operation almost exactly one year before Maine did, didn't pitch in 2010. The Mets would be taking on a considerable risk by offering a few million dollars in arbitration.
When he examined the Mets arbitration class, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes argued that Maine will likely be non-tendered this December. I agree - Maine will probably find himself competing for jobs alongside free agent starters before long. That's no sure thing, though, especially with a new GM on his way in, so it's still worth asking whether the Mets will tender the righty a contract. Click here to vote on Maine's future in New York and here to view the results.