Sunday, December 13, 2009

Non-Tendered Players - Yes on Capps, No on Atkins

As most of you know, last night was the deadline for teams to offer contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. Any player not "tendered" a contract is non-tendered and becomes a free agent, eligible to negotiate with any team. Here is the list of non-tenders, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors.

Matt Brown, Dustin Moseley, Ryan Garko, Clay Condrey, Josh Whitesell, Adam Miller, Anthony Reyes, Jose Veras, Matt Capps, Phil Dumatrait, Raul Chavez, John Buck, Josh Anderson, Mark Worrell, Jackson Quezada, Shawn Riggans, Gabe Gross, Ryan Langerhans, Mark DiFelice, Mike Rivera, Brian Anderson, Jack Cust, Mike MacDougal, D.J. Carrasco, Brian Bass, Neal Cotts, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Amezaga, Scott Olsen, Chien-Ming Wang, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Church, Garrett Atkins, Seth McClung.*

Of those players, there are several I think could contribute to the 2010 Mets. Loosely in order of preference:

Matt Capps
Matt Capps is only 26, has 67 career saves, and a career 3.61 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Why was he non-tendered? He struggled last season.

Capps was due a raise from his $2.35 million salary, and the Pirates ultimately determined that such a cost outweighed Capps' value.

"If Matt is what he was in '07 and in the first half in '08, it's a no-brainer to tender him," Huntington said on Sunday. "While we believe Matt can be a bounce-back candidate for next season, we just weren't willing to go through the arbitration process and risk losing. We got to a number that was our final offer, and when they rejected it, we felt like this was our only option."

He finished the year with a 5.80 ERA, eight losses and five blown saves. It is worth noting, though, that of the 35 earned runs Capps allowed in 54 1/3 innings, 12 of those came in just three appearances (two innings), which certainly swelled his ERA. Source:
Poor, small-market Pirates. Couldn't afford to take a chance on Capps when last year his ERA was an unsightly 5.80. He is a perfect candidate for the Mets, a team with bullpen problems and a big wallet.

He was coming off injury last year, and there are a lot of reasons to believe that he was just unlucky. His fastball last year was the best it has ever been, registering 93.6 MPH on average - up from 91.5 MPH the year before. He got swings on 29.7% of hit pitches out of the zone last year, above his career average of 28.1%. He allowed only 18.7% of hits against him to be line drives, down from his career average of 20%. Finally, he may have been a little unlucky with home runs - 13.5% of fly balls against him went for home runs, an unusually high rate.

The Mets should scoop this guy up quick, even if he is a due a slight raise. He'll want a one year deal to reestablish his value, and he'll provide insurance for K-Rod.

Mark DiFelice
Mark DiFelice had a 2.84 ERA in 2008. He had a 3.66 ERA in 2009. His WHIP is 1.20 for his career. Unfortunately, he'll be missing the year with shoulder surgery. I hope the Mets pick him up on a minor league deal with sights towards 2011.

Ryan Church
Let go by his third organization in as many years, there has to be more to Church than meets the eye. Is he a massive jerk? Whatever it is though, there is one thing that we know he is -- a great defensive outfielder. His UZR/150 for his career as a left fielder is +3.7, and as a right fielder is a phenomenal +14.2.

Church hit .273/.338/.384 last year for an OPS of 722 - down from 785 the year before, and 813 the year before that. He didn't hit well at all. Despite that, however, he was still worth $4.3 million dollars according to His average value from 2006-2008, per year, was around $7 million. I think Church is a solid bet to bounce back and if he could be had cheaply, would make an *excellent* fourth outfielder and insurance plan for Pagan/Beltran in case of injury or Francoeur in case of sucking-at-baseball.

Jack Cust
The Good: For his career, Jack Cust has an 864 OPS against right handed pitchers. He's hit 58 home runs over the last two seasons in Oakland.
The Bad: He struck out 185 times last year in only 513 at-bats. His career batting average is .239. He is a terrible defender everywhere.

That said, Cust is another guy who would be helpful if he could be had cheaply. He could provide late power off the bench, and might want to come to New York to be part of a contender after spending his career in Arizona, Baltimore, San Diego and Oakland on bad teams.

Garrett Atkins

Matt Cerrone over at has talked about Atkins for a while. He pointed out the following:

Despite hitting just .226 last season for the Rockies, Atkins hit .268 against left-handed pitching; he hit .357 against lefties in 2008; .286 in 2007; and .341 against lefties in 2006.
With that left-right split, he becomes an ideal platoon partner for Daniel Murphy at first base. Murphy hit .275/.324/.430 against right-handers last year -- as opposed to .223 agaisnt left-handers.

For what it's worth, I think Atkins is done. Atkins' OPS has decreased steadily over the last four years, from 965 to 853, to 780, and then bottomed out at 650 last year. His career statistics away from Coors Field have been terrible. He is only 30 years old, but he was never the most physically fit player. Finally, he experienced a drastic jump in walks last season (from 40 in 664 ab to 41 in 339 ab) -- which is usually a bad sign for players at the end of their careers.

Others of interest:
Ryan Garko
Adam Miller
Neal Cotts
Jonny Gomes

Edit: James pointed out to me that Garko might be the best non-tender of them all - especially for the Mets. A writer over at fangraphs really destroyed Giants GM Brian Sabean for letting Garko go, and he's probably right.

Garko has a career .313 average and 887 OPS against left handed pitching - the perfect compliment to Dan Murphy in a platoon at first base. He's not a world-beater in general, being a 28-year-old first baseman with an average bat and average-to-below-average glove, but he has his uses.

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