By Mike Steffanos
The Mets had some decisions to make last night. They had to decide by midnight which of their arbitration-eligible players (3-6 years of MLB service) would receive contracts. Any player offered a contract had to make at least 80% of what he made last season. As expected, Endy Chavez, Duaner Sanchez, Ramon Castro and Oliver Perez were all offered contracts. Despite some speculation to the contrary, the Mets did what I expected them to do and re-signed pitcher Dave Williams, who is a prime candidate for the Darren Oliver long relief/spot starter/extra lefty in the bullpen role.
Only one arbitration eligible Met was left out in the cold: everyone's favorite symbol of "Old Mets" futility, Victor Zambrano.
Zambrano, who made $3 million in 2006, would have had to have been offered a contract worth $2.4 million under the rules. Despite the escalating market for pitching, the Mets decided that it was just too much to commit to a pitcher coming off his second Tommy John surgery only 11 months previous to next season's opening day.
I mentioned yesterday that if I was the Mets GM I would probably not offer him the contract. It has nothing to do with what Zambrano represents, which means nothing to me. What means more to me is that it typically takes a pitcher 12-18 months to really recover from the surgery, and that just makes it more likely that Zambrano wouldn't be able to do much in 2007. Moreover, for all of the successful comebacks from a single surgery, there is not much precedent for coming back from two and being particularly effective.
The Mets say they will continue to negotiate with Victor, but I'd be surprised if he was back now. I wouldn't be against him signing a reasonable contract to provide insurance, but his agent can negotiate with anyone now. He'll get offers from other teams, and I suspect that he wants to get away from New York almost as much as some fans would love to see him go.
As is usual in years when the market for free agents is high, there wasn't a large number of non-tendered players. The Biz of Baseball web site has the full list. The one player that is generation some speculation from the Mets is Braves 2B Marcus Giles, although it seems most likely he will wind up in his hometown of San Diego with his older brother Brian. If it seems like there is any chance at all for Giles to come here we'll talk about it another time, but I'd bet against it.