10 established major leaguers who could be looking for a new team by tomorrow
Teams have until midnight (Eastern time) tonight to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. Each year, when that deadline passes, there are a number of notable names that find themselves having been non-tendered. Last year, that list included injured Giants closer Brian Wilson, Orioles slugger Mark Reynolds and Rangers catcher Geovany Soto, among more than 30 others. Here, then, is an alphabetical listing of 10 men currently under team control, all of them arbitration eligible, who could find themselves in search of a new employer by Tuesday morning.
J.P. Arencibia, C, Blue Jays
2013 salary: $505,600
Arencibia is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason, so he's not yet truly expensive, but his salary is due for a big jump despite the fact that he was no better than replacement level last season. He has real power but cannot find his way to first base in less time than it takes to trot there. In three seasons as the Blue Jays primary catcher he has hit .214/.260/.410 and his .227 on-base percentage last year was the fourth-lowest by a hitter with 400 or more plate appearances since the start of the 20th century.
What's more, after having three passed balls on Opening Day 2013, Arencibia didn't catch intended staff ace R.A. Dickey for the rest of the season but still led the majors with 13 passed balls. With Toronto having reached an agreement with catcher Dioner Navarro to a two-year, $8 million contract Monday morning, the handwriting would seem to be on the wall for Arencibia.
2013 salary: $5 million
Axford lost his job as the Brewers' closer in April, but finished strong as a set-up man for the pennant-winning Cardinals after an Aug. 30 waiver trade. Still, he was only sixth on St. Louis' post-season bullpen depth chart. The Cardinals simply have too much pitching talent to pay arbitration prices for Axford coming off that $5 million salary. A non-tender will reset his price now that he is no longer a closer.
2013 salary: $503,500
The 2009 National League Rookie of the Year is now 28 and has hit .242/.307/.352 in the four seasons since his award-winning campaign. Along the way, he has seen his playing time erode (which is why it took him this long to become arbitration eligible for the first time) and he has been squeezed out of the outfield by the emergence of Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna and Jake Marisnick. He did make eight starts in September at third base, the position at which he was drafted back in 2006, but if the Marlins aren't convinced he can be part of the solution at the hot corner, he's not worth tendering.
2013 salary: $3.125 million
The Mets have soured on Davis, who will be 27 in March and hit .205/.326/.334 this past season. They reportedly have been trying to trade him and have had significant interest, but with a deal having thus far failed to develop, New York might opt to just cut bait rather than be on the hook for a multimillion-dollar salary for a player they don't even want.
2013 salary: $2.05 million
Hanigan's .198/.306/.261 performance in 2013 was likely a fluke, the result of some miserable luck on balls in play (.216 BABIP compared to a previous career average of .297). Prior to that he was an underrated and undervalued defensive catcher with a career .370 on-base percentage. Non-tendering Hanigan, 33, would be a mistake, but with Devin Mesoraco the heir apparent at the position -- despite the fact that he has disappointed thus far -- and Hanigan entering his walk year, the Reds signed Brayan Peña to a two-year, $2.275 million deal in mid-November.
2013 salary: $3.725 million
Acquired from the Braves in a trade for fireballing reliever Jordan Walden a year ago, Hanson proved to be more of a problem than a solution in the back of the Angels' rotation. Hanson's stepbrother died in April, which surely impacted his performance, but the reality is that, even if his heart and mind were sound, his arm is not. His velocity declined last year for the third straight season -- each of which saw him spend time on the disabled list with arm problems -- and his average fastball has shed more than three mph over that span. He no longer bears any resemblance to the man who was once Atlanta's top pitching prospect and, briefly, an emerging front-line starter in the major leagues, and he's not worth the $4 million-plus salary he's likely to receive via arbitration.
2013 salary: $1.4875 million
Morales proved to be a valuable swing-man for the scuffling 2012 Red Sox, but last year he was marginalized by injury, a return of his previous wildness (5.3 BB/9 last year, 4.9 BB/9 in his career prior to 2012) and the success of lefty alternatives Craig Breslow and Andrew Miller. With Breslow and Miller still in the fold, there's no reason for Boston, which also has six viable starters, to spend arbitration prices on Morales.
2013 salary: $900,000
Nix started 74 games at third base and shortstop for New York last year, but with Brendan Ryan and a theoretically healthy Derek Jeter both signed for next year, Eduardo Nuñez not yet arb-eligible and Alex Rodriguez still in play, the Yankees don't seem likely to pay seven figures for a placeholder like Nix. He could be easily replaced for far less money.
2013 salary: $505,000
Pittsburgh took a worthwhile gamble on failed Blue Jays prospect Snider at the 2012 trading deadline, hoping he would respond to a change of scenery that cost the Bucs nothing more than their own busted first-round pick, pitcher Brad Lincoln. They got this catch out of the deal, but not much else, and there's not little reason to expect Snider to break through at this point, even if he won't be 26 until February. Now that they are a contending team, it's time for the Pirates to move on rather than pay arbitration prices for someone else's mistake.
2013 salary: $2.825 millionStubbs is another failed prospect and busted first-round pick who failed to respond to a change of scenery (a ploy that seldom works) and is already making millions of dollars. He has hit .231/.303/.353 over the last three seasons, putting up an almost exact match for that line in his first year with Cleveland this past season in the wake of the three-team trade that sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati. Stubbs can still run, but his defense has slipped according to the advanced metrics, making him a one-tool player. Having added David Murphy last month to an outfield that includes Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley and Nick Swisher, the Indians clearly see Stubbs, who is already 29, as no more than a part-time player. Most likely, they'll let another team try to solve him.