Friday, December 11, 2009

Non-Tender Deadline Preview

Good morning Fackers. Well, the whirlwind week of Winter Meetings is essentially behind us. My head is still spinning from all the updates, blog postings, tweets, and rumors floating about. But things are starting to take shape. I think the Yankees are far from being done maneuvering however.

The last event for this week is tomorrow's non-tender deadline for arbitration eligible players. Arbitration eligible players not tendered a contract by their club prior to the deadline become free agents. The Yankees have four arbitration eligible players:

  • Chien-Ming Wang: Wang is universally regarded as a goner. The Yankees do not want to offer him arbitration and play him more than the $5M he made in 2009 after he's missed nearly the entirety of the past two seasons. Wang started a throwing program last week, and his agent claims he won't be far behind other pitchers in spring training, stating he'll be ready to pitch by May 1st. Still, the Yankees don't figure it wise to commit the money to Wang given his injury history - including three shoulder injuries now - his poor performance last year and the uncertainty that surrounds him moving forward. I'll be sad to see him go. He was a very good pitcher for the Yankees for three plus years before that freak injury in Houston nearly two years ago. The Yankees likely botched his rehab and then didn't really put him in a position to succeed or improve upon his return.There's a chance Wang re-signs with the Yankees for less money, but I just don't see it happening. He'll likely receive a better offer from someone else; Joe Torre and the Dodgers have expressed interest.

  • Chad Gaudin: Surprisingly, Gaudin has been mentioned as a potential non-tender candidate, as he stands to make about $3M through arbitration. I can't see the Yanks non-tendering him however. If the priority is pitching, pitching, pitching, then left-field, the Yankees cannot afford to keep jettisoning pitchers. Say what you will about Brian Bruney, Phil Coke, and Ian Kennedy, but trading them subtracts from depth. I doubt the Yankees will let a capable, versatile pitcher like Gaudin go over a few hundred thousand dollars. His ability to be serviceable as a starter or a reliever would be of benefit to the 2010 Yankees.

  • Sergio Mitre: There's no indication Mitre will be non-tendered. Earlier in the off-season the Yankees declined their $1.25M option on Mitre, but that doesn't mean they don't want him around next year. He wasn't outrighted or designated for assignment, so it appears the Yankees are willing to go to arbitration with him, where they figure to get him for less than the value of his option. I wasn't impressed with Mitre at all last year, but again, pitching depth is the name of the game right now. At this point, Mitre doesn't figure to be a member of the starting rotation, so perhaps the sinkerballer can be of double play inducing value out of the bullpen and serve as the designated longman.

  • Melky Cabrera: There's no chance Melky will be non-tendered. After regressing for two straight seasons after an impressive rookie year, Melky was one of several Yankees to enjoy a bounceback season in 2009. His role for 2010 remains uncertain with the acquisition of Curtis Granderson and the word that the Yankees are trying to re-sign Johnny Damon. Cabrera could be in the mix for LF job, he could be the 4th outfielder, or he could be trade bait given the apparent glut of 4th outfielder / back-up center fielder types on the Yankee roster at present. But one way or the other, the Yankees will want to secure their rights to him for 2010, so he will be tendered a contract. After making $1.4M last year, some estimate Melky may earn as much as $3M in 2010.
Once the news breaks, we'll take a look at some of the players non-tendered by other clubs.


  1. We're pretty much in agreement over these players, Matt. I have a sore spot about Wang primarily because the Yankees did screw up Wang's rehab, then tamped it down by playing dumb for weeks about his reduced velocity--all the while having told him not to run, basically what that country club tennis pro Marty Miller foolishly advised in 2007 to get himself fired. Disgracful.

    I see Gaudin staying, too. I like him, and thought he wasn't bad with the Yankees, especially given his infrequent use. He sinks the ball well and is more accurate and reliable than Meat Tray. Pitching depth is truly key and, given the strong Yankees rotation, a guy like Gaudin is not a bad 5th starter option at all. The others were good enough to prevent prolonged losing streaks, and Gaudin himself is pretty decent. While I'd prefer Joba and Hughes to start, if at some point Gaudin replaced Hughes to cap his innings, because of Hughes's only pitching 86 innings in 2009, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

  2. I have a soft spot for Wang as well. For three years, he was the most stable part of our rotation and was an absolute joy to watch. Any time he took the mound and that sinker was working, you thought there was a chance to see him pitch a one or two hitter.

    That duel he had with Beckett (2006 I think) where Melky made the amazing catch to rob Manny of a HR is one of my favorite regular season games of the decade and solidified Wang as a favorite of mine.

    I'd love to see him come back for less money - I mean talk about the preverbial high-upside gamble if it works. But I angrily declared his effective big-league career over last year and I fear it may be true.

  3. I'm with you, Jimmy. When he was at his best, Wang was like Rivera in a way. He had more or less one pitch, and opposing players could do almost nothing with it. I remember an interview where Brandon Inge said about Wang, "You basically have to try to make yourself swing 5 or 6 inches underneath where you think the ball should be if you want to hit it".

    I was at a game in '07 when he took a perfect game into the 8th inning but it got broken up by a HR by Ben fucking Broussard.

    There was a while when I really thought I would see him throw a no-hitter.

    In all likelihood, he was going to come back to earth at some point, but to see his career derailed but such a fluke injury that had nothing to do with the act of pitching is truly a shame. I think he'll make it back to the Big Leauges at some point, but that dominant version of CMW who looked like he could throw a no-hitter at any poiny is gone for good.

  4. I was sure Wang would someday throw a no hitter - it would just come down to luck (could A-Rod field a slow-grounder or would one find the hole up the middle).

    I remember the game from '07 all too well. By the seventh I had shifted into all of my nervous habits leftover from Wells', Cone's, and Mussina's perfect/almost perfect games.