Non-Tender Highlights

A slew of new free agents hit the market last week when teams announced they would “non-tender” players under their control rather than offer them contracts or arbitration.

The entire list can be seen here.

In this fresh addition of bodies could be a few bargains; let’s take a look at some in particular that are either possible targtes of the Mets, or simply interesting.

Dioner Navarro
The Mets need catching depth, and Navarro is a catcher. A breakout year in 2008 suggested future stardom, but he has been awful ever since. He’ll turn only 27 in February and is a switch-hitter with good defensive skills. I had hoped he’d be non-tendered last year, but the Rays kept him — and then I hoped the Mets would trade for him. I still like him for his youth and previous blip of success.

Ronny Paulino
Another catcher. Paulino is a righthanded hitter with occasional pop and excellent athleticism behind the plate. His main problems have been lack of discipline in all areas of his game, over-aggressiveness at the plate, and occasional lapses in concentration — all of which he manages to overcome somewhat by his god-given ability. He turns 30 in April.

Andrew Miller
I did a double-take when I saw this one; it’s not every day that a 25-year-old, 6’7″ lefthanded pitcher with a 92-MPH fastball becomes available. But on closer examination, Miller has been given ample opportunity to pitch in MLB and has failed miserably. He’s still young enough to turn the corner, but his mechanics need a complete overhaul. Can the Mets handle a pitching project like this?

Ryan Rowland-Smith
The big lefty from Australia was an OK-to-mediocre back-end starter before slogging through a nightmare season in 2010, when he posted a 1-10 record and a 6.75 ERA. Some people might immediately peg him as a LOOGY candidate but I don’t project him in such a role, mainly because he doesn’t have an impressive strikeout pitch. Rather, I can see him in a swing role, similar to what Hisanori Takahashi fulfilled for most of last season and Darren Oliver did in 2006 — i.e., long relief, middle relief, spot starting. He’s only 27, is healthy, and taking martial arts classes this winter to regain his self-confidence.

Russell Martin
This is definitely someone I’d love for the Mets to sign, but it’s unlikely to happen. Even though he’s coming off a major hip injury, teams such as the Red Sox and Yankees are lining up for him, so his cost will be beyond the Mets’ budget. See my post from the weekend, Free Agent Focus: Russell Martin.

Bobby Jenks
He’d be better than any non-criminal in the Mets bullpen, but, like Martin, he’s unlikely to fit into the Mets’ budget. Further, I’m not sure he’ll be worth the dollars he’ll command on the open market — I get the feeling he’ll be overvalued.

Todd Coffey
A middle reliever who has been up and down throughout his career and just turned 30. I don’t see him as a building block for the future but he could be an affordable stopgap in middle relief. He’s coming off one of the “down” years so he could be had on a cheap deal.

Joel Peralta
Like Coffey, he’s an inconsistent reliever in his 30s who would be a stopgap in the ‘pen. Unlike Coffey, he’s coming off one his “up” years and may cost more than he’s worth.

Lastings Milledge
This name seems familiar. Though he hasn’t made much progress since his MLB debut in ’05, it’s strange that the Pirates would let him go. He’ll be 26 in April.

Ryan Church
Kind of ironic that Church, Milledge, and Jeff Francoeur are all looking for jobs right now while Brian Schneider is set with the Phillies for another year.

Matt Diaz
This guy absolutely rakes lefthanded pitching, but he’ll be 33 by Opening Day. Would be a great addition if Mets weren’t in rebuilding mode.

Manny Delcarmen
Delcarmen was an effective middle reliever in ’07 and ’08 but has regressed significantly since. He turns 29 in February; might be worth a look on a minor league deal.

George Sherrill
If the Mets feel the need to sign a veteran LOOGY, Sherrill may come cheap after an awful 2010 season. There’s a chance he returns to form and thus becomes a viable trading chip in July, but he’s likely not worth gambling a big-league contract on.

Hideki Okajima
The Japanese lefty was lights out from ’07 – ’09, then faltered considerably in 2010. Was his ineffectiveness due to his hamstring injury? Did the AL finally figure him out? Or is he simply on a downward path typical of pitchers entering their mid-30s? Several teams may be in the bidding for his services, and thus may be paid more than he’s worth at this point in his career.

Chris Ray
Ray saved 33 games as a 24-year-old in 2006, but shoulder problems derailed his once-promising career. He’s now healthy, but nearly as effective as he was before the injuries began. He’ll be 29 in January.

Matt Albers
Albers was once one of the top prospects in the Astros organization, and one of the key players in the deal that sent Miguel Tejada from Baltimore to Houston. He hasn’t quite lived up the expectations, but has been a serviceable if inconsistent middle reliever. Albers to me is a righthanded Jason Vargas — a smaller guy with underwhelming stuff who gets by more on guile and moxie. He throws a low-90s sinker and a hard slurve and could fit into a bullpen role.

Taylor Buchholz
This righthander was effective in middle relief for Colorado before Tommy John surgery stunted his career in 2009. He has a new, healthy elbow and is under 30, so may be worth a look.

Chien-Ming Wang
He spent all of 2010 on the DL recovering from shoulder surgery. At first glance, he might appear to be a good gamble, but on second thought, he’ll be 31 before Opening Day and is coming off an injury with a poor recovery rate. Chances are he re-signs with the Nationals anyway.

Josh Fields
I doubt the Mets have any interest in Fields, who is primarily a third baseman with limited experience in left field and first base. But he’s intriguing in that he is an outstanding athlete (QB at Oklahoma State) with raw all-around skills and good bat speed. He was a top prospect for the White Sox, and hit 23 HRs as a rookie in 2007. However his career has spiraled downward since, unable to duplicate the discipline and strike zone judgment he displayed in the minors. He turns 28 next week, so he may be too old to improve. But I’d consider him for AAA — it’s not like the Mets are loaded with prospects in Buffalo.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. CatchDog December 6, 2010 at 10:01 am
    Navarro would be a good get. Paulino is coming off a drug suspension so he might be passed over.

    Wang was rehabbing up at the Nat’s Space Coast (FL) complex during the fall. Wang was topping out at a limp 87 mph. He might be done.

    • Joe Janish December 6, 2010 at 11:47 am
      Why would a PEDs suspension cause the Mets to pass on Paulino? He only has about 7 or 8 games left to serve. Further, didn’t Sandy Alderson build his World Championship teams around the Godfather of Steroids Jose Canseco and his godson Mark McGwire?

      Chicks dig the long ball, as Alderson reminded us during his interview the other day on the MLB Network.

      Thanks for the note on Wang. I didn’t realize he was in his early 30s already, which combined with the drop in velocity makes me think he’s not worth the risk.

  2. Walnutz15 December 6, 2010 at 10:39 am
    Wang is looking for a Major League-deal, and having not pitched at the level for the past 17 months would scare me a bit.

    Not like we have a guru for a pitching coach; and I’m sure his mechanics would need to be closely monitored.

    Not sure who to believe in terms of scouting reports, but contrary to the report above — Klapisch was putting out that he “looked filthy” through a scout who saw him:

    He won’t wind up with us anyway, but he’s another guy I always view as intriguing. Had him pegged for the Cardinals before he signeds with the Nats last year….waiting to see if it happens now.