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Interesting Non-Tenders

By Mike Silva ~ December 13th, 2011. Filed under: New York Mets, New York Yankees, Offseason Speculation.

Last night was the deadline for teams to offer arbitration-eligible players a contract. Those that weren’t, were non-tendered, which now makes them a free agent.

The Yankees are searching for bench help and a situational lefty. The Mets need a backup infielder, second lefty, and more starting pitching. Both teams 40-man rosters are completely full, so unless they plan on removing someone, they are only able to offer minor league deals.

The Mets non-tendered both Mike Baxter and Ronny Paulino, bringing their roster down to 38, but the signings of Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch will bring it back up to 40.

Here are some names that might fit. Remember, any individual that requires a big league deal will bump an existing 40-man member off the roster.

Of course, you can click on their name to see extensive statistics over at Baseball-Reference

Ryan Theriot (IF) - Career .282 hitter that can play 2b and SS. Right now, the Mets need a veteran middle infielder to back up Ruben Tejada and Daniel Murphy. They have been connected to Jack Wilson, a free agent. The Cardinals were disappointed with Theriot’s defense, but he is a far better hitter than Wilson, who hit only .220 last year. Theriot played every day for St. Louis, so I don’t know if he would be willing to take a 250 at-bat job as a backup with the Mets.

Jeff Keppinger (IF-OF) - Remember the man involved in the Scott Kazmir trade that no one talks about? I think both teams could use someone with this versatility, but he might be a better fit in the American League. The Yankees inquired about him the last couple of years so I could see there being interest. Played only second base last year in Houston and San Francisco, but has played 3B, 1B SS, RF, and LF throughout his career. More of an offensive player (.281 career batting average), but if Eric Chavez is not an option he is a good fit. Personally, I would prefer Chavez’s glove at the corners over Keppinger. Again, like Theriot, he probably will want an everyday job before he settles for being a backup.

Eli Whiteside (C) - The Mets non-tendered Ronny Paulino, so right now Mike Nickeas is their backup catcher. I think Nickeas deserves a shot to win the job, but his lack of experience makes it necessary to have some sort of veteran in camp (I don’t count Lucas May, who they signed yesterday). Whiteside is a terrible hitter (.218), and had some issues on defense. Not my first option, but someone I would take a look at.

Jason Jaramillo (C) - Threw out 39% of base runners for the Pirates Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis. Hit .326 in just 23 games for the Pirates. A career .269 MILB hitter was actually traded by the Phillies for Ronny Paulino at one time. He might be a nice fit for the Mets, and better than Whiteside.

Clay Hensley (RHP) - Had a great year out of the Marlins bullpen in 2010 (2.16 ERA with 9 K/9), but regressed last year (5.19 ERA, 6.1 K/9). Walks too many batters (4 per 9 for his career), but can be a long reliever that can go multiple innings. The Mets bullpen is stacked, but maybe the Yankees look at him to fill the Luis Ayala role. Doubtful, however, since they have so many internal options.

Hong-Chih Kuo (LHP) - remember this guy? Produced  one of the best bullpen seasons for a lefty in the history of the game during the 2010 season in LA. Had a 1.20 ERA and 11 K/9. His ERA+ of 324 was fifth best for a LHP who appeared in 50+ ballgames since 1901. Last year he battled from anxiety disorder and walked 7 per nine and posted an ERA of 9.00 in just 27 innings. LH have just a .600 career OPS against Kuo. I think both teams are a fit, but the Yankees have more capital and a pitching coach that I would trust more with a rehabilitating pitcher. It’s too bad, because the Mets could use him, but they proved with Jonathan Broxton they aren’t able to risk much payroll on a project. Don’t get me started on how bad a fit he would be with Dan Warthen. This has Yankees written all over it.

Koyie Hill (C) - Another cheap catching options. Terrible hitter (.211 career batting average), who is known for his defense. Not sure he is much of an upgrade for the Mets over Mike Nickeas.

Joe Saunders (LHP) - I would think both teams could be in on him, but he is a better fit for the Mets and the National League. It’s probably a fantasy for Sandy Alderson to fit Saunders in his budget, as there are rumors the Red Sox are interested. Threw 212 innings with Arizona last season, won 12 games, and posted a 3.69 ERA. He pitches to contact (career 5 K/9), but that hasn’t stopped him from winning ballgames (69-52, .570) throughout his career. I would think his resume gets him a 2-year deal someone. He is a perfect fit for the Mets.

Andy Sonnanstine (RHP) - This is a player the Mets were connected with a couple of years ago. There has been no room for him in the pitching-rich Rays rotation the last couple of years. Pitched 193 innings and won 13 games for the Rays during 2008 pennant winning season. An ugly career ERA of 5.26. A contact pitcher, like Saunders, who probably should be in the National League. Another option for the Mets.

Rich Hill (LHP) - Both teams need a LOOGY and the former Cubs starter has a career OPS of .664 against LH. Has suffered from numerous arm injuries and only pitched 12 innings out of the Boston bullpen the last two seasons, but to a perfect 0.00 ERA.

Aaron Laffey (LHP) - Yankees have been there, done that. Maybe the Mets give him a minor league invite.  Career OPS of .718 vs. LH; nothing special, but he could be Triple-A depth, and you never know.

Jose Mijares (LHP) - another example of a LOOGY both teams should be in on.  Career OPS of .607 vs. Had a career year in 2009 when he posted a 2.34 ERA in 71 games. Only 26, but fell into the Twins doghouse because of weight and visa issues. Walked an obscene 5.5 per 9 last year, but any 26-year old lefty with his bullpen resume will find a job rather easily. The conditioning, however, should be a concern

Will Rhymes (IF-OF) - career .291 minor league hitter that has only a cup of coffee with the Tigers. Played 2b exclusively in the big leagues, but has experience at SS, 3B, and all three OF positions in the minors. He probably is a better fit for the Mets since he will be very inexpensive and won’t have access to an everyday job ala Keppinger or Theriot. Had a nice year with the Tigers in 2010, as he hit .304 in 191 ABs.

Fabio Castillo (RHP) - 22-year old reliever that has struck out a batter per an inning in the minors, but has control issues. No big league experience to date, but an intriguing arm.

Doug Slaten (LHP) - Again, every lefty will probably be examined by Brian Cashman and Sandy Alderson. Slaton has a career OPS vs. LH of .666 (good or bad sign?). Walks quite a few batters, but an ok career strikeout rate of 6.8 per nine. Had a nice 2010 in Washington, where he posted a 3.10 ERA.

You can check out the entire list over at MLBTR.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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