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Sharing a Non-Tender Moment with Someone You Love

Mike SteffanosTuesday, December 12, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

Midnight tonight is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to their players that are eligible for arbitration but not yet eligible for free agency. If teams chose not to offer these players contracts for at least 80% of their 2006 salaries, then they become free agents and any team can sign them for whatever price they negotiate. It's rumored that the Braves are considering non-tendering 2B Marcus Giles. As for the Mets, the two players they are considering trying a little non-tenderness with are pitchers Dave Williams and Victor Zambrano.

Williams made $1.4 million last season and pitched rather effectively. He would seem to be the leading candidate to step into the role of the departed Darren Oliver, and the money would seem reasonable by today's standard. I'd be surprised if Williams wasn't a Met next season.

Victor Zambrano could be another story. He wants to come back, and has even offered to pitch out of the bullpen to hasten his return from a second career Tommy John surgery. It would cost the Mets $2.4 million -- 80% of the $3 million he made last season -- to keep the enigmatic Zambrano basking in the love of Mets fans for another season. According to both the New York Post and Mets.com the Mets are indeed considering bringing back Zambrano.

If they do this, there will surely be a sh*tstorm of protest from Mets fans who just want Victor to go away. They will claim this is more evidence that the Mets would do anything to try to justify the infamous Kazmir deal. Of course, they'll have to overlook the fact that Omar Minaya has never shown the smallest sign of worrying about that nonsense. While I'm not sure where the Mets will go on this, I'm really not very worried about Minaya making his choice with Zambrano using any other criteria than what's best for the Mets.

If I were the Mets GM I'm not sure what I would do with Zambrano. On the one hand, you have the escalating market for pitchers that makes $2.4 million somewhat of a bargain for an experienced major league starter. You have a team that has question marks in both the starting rotation and bullpen that could use as much insurance as possible.

But on the other hand, you have a guy coming off his second career TJ surgery last May. You can't expect anything from Zambrano at the start of the season, and you really don't know what he might contribute at all in 2007. If I was GM, I might non-tender him and try to get him to come back on an incentive-laden deal at a base price lower than the 2.4 million -- of course, by doing that you take the risk of not re-signing him at all. Given the crazy market, it's not at all farfetched that someone will take a $2+ million roll of the dice with him. Anyway, I'm comfortable leaving that call in the hands of Omar and his staff.

In the same Post article referenced above, Michael Morrissey asserts that the Mets are reconciled to the fact that Barry Zito will sign with the Rangers, because they will not match the offer in years and dollars. I'm sure I will read another article tomorrow that declares that Zito will unequivocally sign with the Mets. The whole thing is just giving me a headache. I've reconciled that the Mets might indeed sign Zito to a contract that will scare the hell out of me, and I've also accepted that he might not pitch here at all. Qué será será. I'm not willing to let this thing drive me crazy.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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Comments (9)

Mike, take two asprins and call me in the morning.THIS TO SHALL PASS. I pray soon because I am running out of asprins myself.

I'm fine, Rev. I just don't obsess over it anymore.


I've always been a fan of pay for play. Hit a homer? Ten thousand bucks? Get a save? 25 thou. Get injured and don't play all season? Get whatever your injury insurance calls for.

I know there are lots of problems with taking that tack. But if we got a disinterested party or committee - say, Mike Steffanos and Bill James - to quantify the value of what's done on the field, there won't be any arguing over who's overpaid or underpaid.

In my mind, I live in a jolly, happy world. Don't annoy me with the facts.

The question about bringing Zambrano back is this: if the Kazmir trade hadn't happened, and if Victor were available for this price, would he be worth it? And if the answer is "yes," then he should be signed. As you once said, let's move on from the trade and look at this on whether it's a good gamble or not.

Keeping Zambrano is not going to make the Kazmir trade look good, anyway, even if Z works his way into the rotation.

And I don't think Omar is about making the trade look good. Why should he? He wasn't involved, and he got his job partly because the trade looked so bad. He has nothing invested in proving anyone right, so probably will look at the signing on its merits.

NostraDennis - Things are changing so fast that I wouldn't try to guess on the value of players anymore. I've heard that insuring large contracts has become somewhat expensive. I doubt that a guy like Zambrano would be insurable no matter what his contract calls for.

Chuck -- Too much logic there. You're in danger of being recognized as a reasonable fan. Wouldn't you rather find a way to pin global warming on VZ?

Sure -- Global warming was caused by sucking the heat out of Z's fastball.

Well, the reports are that Zambrano will not be tendered, tenderized, nor traded for a bucket of chicken tenders, thus nullifying bets across the tri-state area.

I'm betting that wherever he signs it's for noticably less than the $2.4 million it would have taken for the Mets to retain control.

Even though I know that he pitched a few terrific games for Tampa back when, I do not believe he will ever become a really useful pitcher. The best work he did for the Mets occurred in 2005; and the same adjustments he made to get his walks-per-nine ratio down from 6.75 to 4.17 (which still isn't so good), also brought his K's-per-nine down too, from 7.66 to 6.06. That's hardly an improvement; it's just a different mix of the same stuff. Pass.

He's been officially non-tendered. I'm not sure what he will sign for, but I agree with you that he wasn't worth 2.4 mil.

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