Arbitration Action Hits M's, MLB

With the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to players they have under team control creeping up, the word on the street is that there may be a few intriguing non-tenders looking for work come Tuesday afternoon.

The Mariners will tender contract offers to their own arbitration eligible players, while at least one of the five will become a free agent.

Rafael Soriano, Julio Mateo and Willie Bloomquist will receive offers within the next several hours, effectively guaranteeing them a spot on the 25-man roster for 2006.

The other two, righthanders Gil Meche and Ryan Franklin, may not be so lucky.

While the Seattle P-I is reporting that Franklin may be brought back and Meche sent to the scrap heap, one might wonder if that isn't a backwards projection of events.

Meche made $2.535 million last season and went 10-8 wth a 5.09 ERA in 26 starts, while Franklin, who made $2.4 million, went 8-15 with a 5.10 ERA in 30 starts.

The differences between the two can't be found in their stat lines.

The microcscopic difference in their ERAs is just the beginning of the statistical kinship between the two.

Meche allowed a .275 BAA, Franklin finished at .280.

The pair also put up identical G/F ratios at 0.95 - mediocre numbers in that area, by all standards, as were every last number they each posted the past two seasons.

But if you are Bill Bavasi and you are thinking of bring one of them back, why would Franklin even be an option?

He'll be 33 before the season begins, is on a ruthless decline since 2003 and tested positive for a banned substance last summer, sat out a 10-game suspension, and like a dog with frosting on his nose he denied the validity of the test results.

In Meche, at least there is a chance, albeit a very small one, that he gives the club something worthy of the money he'll be paid in 2006.

No, Meche does NOT have ace stuff. He never did. He once threw 94-98 mph with a plus curveball, but he's never had ace stuff, not even pre-surgery.

His raw stuff WAS ONCE frontline-starter material, and while it no longer shines like it did a few years ago, his 90-94 mph fastball and solid curveball are decent pitches, if he can find his command.

Abiding by the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Mariners cannot even offer either player a pay cut of more than 20 percent off their '05 salary.

For Franklin, the least he can be offered is $1.92 million while Meche must receive a contract tender of $2.03 million.

Nearly 100 percent of arbitration dealings result in the player getting a raise, however, which likely makes both Meche and Franklin millionaires - three times over.

With the bloated pitching market making things tough for the club to secure rotation upgrades, you really can't blame Bavasi for exploring an option like retaining 27-year-old arm like the club's 1996 first-round draft pick.

But paying Ryan Franklin a single penny seems to make about as much sense as the lyrics to an Ashley Simpson cut.

Paying him upwards of the $2.4 million the M's wasted a year ago would be a detriment to both the M's roster makeup in '06, and ultimately Bavasi's tenure in Seattle.

On the bright side, maybe neither will be tendered, and the M's choose to dip into the arbitration action and trade for or sign a quality player from the group below.

Some may get the non-tender and become free agents. Others may be available via trade, even after their teams tender them a contract.

Dec. 20 - Last date to tender contracts.

This is the final date for clubs to tender contracts to those free agents who were offered arbitration by December 7.

Jan. 5-15 - Salary arbitration filing period

These 11 days are used for the official transactions of arbitration filing to take place. Just a formality.

Jan. 8 - Last day until May 1 for free agents who rejected arbitration offers to re-sign with their former teams

Pretty cut and dry. If a free agent is offered arbitration by his former club from the previous year and rejects, he is not eligible to re-sign with that club until May 1. But, remember, if a free agent wasn't offered arbitration in the first place, he's already restricted from signing with his former club until May 1.

Jan. 18 - Exchange of salary arbitration figures

Player and club exchange single salary offers. This is basically where the club offers a lower number than the player asks for and the two sides either go to arbitration and let the arbiter decide, or meet somewhere in the middle.

Feb. 1-21 - Salary Arbitration hearings

If arbitration-eligible player and club have not agreed to a contract by January 31, previously scheduled hearings will be heard for these three weeks. This is not the dates for free agents who were offered arbitration by their former clubs - this date is for arbitration-eligible players with 2+ to five years of service time only.
Arbitration Action
SP Adam Eaton San Diego $3.325M
SP Ted Lilly Toronto $3.1M
SP Jon Garland ChiSox $3.4M
SP Wade Miller Boston $1.5M
SP Rodrigo Lopez Baltimore $2.525M
SP Tomo Ohka Milwaukee $2.75M
SP Kyle Lohse Minnesota $2.4M
SP Kip Wells Pittsburgh $3.175M
SP Joe Kennedy Oakland $2.2M
RP Jorge Julio Baltimore $2.5M
OF Austin Kearns Cincinnati $925K
OF Corey Patterson ChiCubs $2.8M
OF Brandon Inge Detroit $1.35M
1B Carlos Pena Detroit $2.575M
C Javier Valentin Cincinnati $450K
OF Bobby Kielty Oakland $910K
3B Russell Branyan Milwaukee $800K
C Jose Molina Anaheim $725K
OF Jay Gibbons Baltimore $2.9M
OF Craig Wilson Pittsburgh $3.0M

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