Instead of offering players arbitration, teams have the option to "non-tender" their arbitration eligible players, which would make them free agents. More free agents, yay! Given the rough economic climate we are in, it is no surprise to see teams refuse to offer contracts to productive players. As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. Without further ado, here are four suggestions of where some of these non-tender free agents should land.
1. Tim Redding to the Orioles
-As of this moment, the Orioles currently have one consistent, reliable starting pitcher: Jeremy Guthrie. They have lots of young pitchers who might be good, but they still need another reliable presence at the top of the rotation.
Enter Tim Redding. For the past two seasons, Redding, 30, has pitched for the Washington Nationals and for the most part, he has pitched well (aside from a 6.82 ERA in the second half of 2008). He will never be confused for an ace, but Redding is a dependable and reliable starter who can offer some stability to the young Oriole pitchers. Plus, he should be able to eat a good amount of innings that would instead be given to Brian Burress or Hayden Penn.
Having Redding pitch in the AL East might be a scary thought to many Orioles fans given his propensity for the long ball (27 last year). But considering the alternatives, Redding the best low cost, stable option for Andy McPhail. No one expects the Orioles to compete for a playoff spot next year, but this move could help ensure that the Orioles remain competitive in 2009.
2. Ty Wigginton to the Twins
-This move is obvious. The Twins need a third baseman with some power and Wigginton fits the bill exactly. Wigginton would provide the right handed power bat that the Twins were missing last season. He hit 23 homers last season to go along with his impressive .285 batting average and .350 OBP. This lineup could be scary next season with Wigginton, a healthy Michael Cuddyer, and if Delmon Young finally displays the big time power. You can count on a .280 batting average with at least 20 homers from Wigginton next season.
The real question will be what kind of contract Wigginton will warrant. Will he receive a 3 year/$17 million dollar deal like Casey Blake? I see no reason why Wigginton should not command a contract similar to that of Casey Blake. He is younger (only 30) and put up better stats this season than Blake did in 2008, but who knows if the money is out there for him at this point. Minnesota might turn out to be the only serious player for Wigginton (maybe the Giants as well...).
P.S. I know this is a pipe dream, but I would love to see Wiggy back with the Mets as a super utility type of guy. He'd be perfect, but I'm sure he can do better elsewhere.
3. Takashi Saito to the Mariners
-The Mariners are currently closer-less after trading away JJ Putz, which is the main reason why Saito makes sense here. But there is another big reason why Saito is needed in Seattle: Brandon Morrow. The Mariners should have NO thoughts about moving Morrow, who could be a future ace, back to the bullpen. This guy has a major future as a starter and he cannot be jerked around from the rotation to the bullpen simply to fit a need.
Also, signing Saito would probably confirm that Aaron Heilman will be a starter, which should be a no brainer anyway. There has been no confirmation of this yet, but trust me Mariners fans, for Heilman's mental health, he needs to be a starter.
The risk on Saito is high. He has no business being non-tendered, but the Dodgers had concerns about his arm. But if Saito is healthy, he has the potential to be one of the best closers in baseball and could stabilize the Seattle bullpen.
4. Aaron Miles to the Mets
-Does anyone outside Missouri realize that Miles hit .317 last season? Or how about this little nugget: in 379 ABs, Miles only struck out 37 times. That's a pretty damn good season, don't cha' think? Well, because of Adam Kennedy and a host of younger players, the Cardinals did not tender a contract to Miles, despite his good numbers.
Miles would be a perfect fit with the Mets as a utility man. Miles is very versatile as he can play both 2B, SS, and 3B if needed. This is especially important to the Mets because Luis Castillo is sure to get hurt and miss boatloads of time. It's an inevitable injury that the Mets need to prepare for. Should Castillo get hurt, the Mets should feel confident having Miles waiting in the wings because he can hit both lefties (.315 in '08) and righties (.317 in '08). He would be the perfect utility man for the Mets, who need to have versatile players to compliment their impressive core group.