NEW YORK -- The Mets offered left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano arbitration prior to Tuesday's deadline, agreeing to the significant risk that comes with a potential reward.
Offering Feliciano arbitration guarantees the Mets a second-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft if another team signs the Type B free agent this winter. But it also forces New York to prepare for the possibility that Feliciano, who made $2.9 million last season, could accept the club's offer. If he does, the Mets will be forced to offer Feliciano a one-year contract at a to-be-determined salary, likely close to $4 million.
Feliciano is seeking a multiyear deal on the open market, and the fact that the Tigers recently inked fellow reliever Joaquin Benoit to a three-year, $16.5 million contract bodes well for his chances to land one. But he is also 34 years old and coming off three consecutive seasons of at least 86 appearances. The inherent risk of age, along with the sacrifice of a Draft pick, may deter teams from pursuing him -- thus prompting Feliciano to consider accepting New York's offer.
Feliciano has until Nov. 30 to accept or decline arbitration from the Mets.
If he accepts, he will suck up a significant portion of the team's flexibility this winter. The Mets already have over $111 million set aside for just eight players, and scheduled raises to others may leave them with as little as $5-10 million to spend this winter. If the Mets use up more than half of that liquid budget on Feliciano, it could significantly impact their other dealings.
"I've tried to be clear from the outset that we are not going to be big players in the free-agent market this year," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "Our goal is to be players every year. We have a little less flexibility this time around. The free-agent market is certainly something we're keeping our eye on. The free-agent market extends through January, so we've got a lot of time to go. We'll see where we are at the end of that time frame."