Mets avoid arbitration with two reserves

Mets avoid arbitration with two reserves

NEW YORK -- Willie Randolph was about to begin his brief tour of duty as the Mets' second baseman. Bobby Bonilla hadn't yet offered tours of the Bronx, and Howard Johnson had 30-30 vision. It was January 1992, and the Mets were preparing for salary-arbitration hearings. They haven't done that since then.

And they're not preparing this year, either. Only two arbitration-eligible players remained on their roster after left-hander Oliver Perez signed last week, and both agreed to contracts on Tuesday, the day arbitration proposals were to be exchanged. Endy Chavez and Ramon Castro agreed to one-year contracts for $1.725 million and $850,000, respectively.

Arbitration-eligible for the second time, Chavez's 2007 salary constitutes an increase of $1.025 million; he can earn an additoinal $100,000 in incentives. Castro's increase was a more modest $50,000, and he can earn as much as $212,500 in incentives.

Chavez, who turns 29 next month, became an integral part of the Mets' scheme last year, his first with the club. He began the season as the team's fourth outfielder, but because of injuries to Cliff Floyd and his own fine play, he started 79 games and appeared in 41 others.

Chavez played 815 1/3 innings, most of them in right field, and appeared in more innings than any Mets outfielder other than Carlos Beltran (1,184). Chavez committed no errors and had nine assists. The seven National League outfielders who had more assists -- one was Beltran with 13 -- averaged 1,167 innings.

And, of course, Chavez made that brilliant catch in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series and saved the Mets two runs in what, at the time, was a 1-1 tie game.

Chavez also batted .306 in 353 at-bats, an average that reflected his .333 in 78 at-bats against left-handed pitching, .326 in 86 at-bats with runners in scoring position, .324 in 145 at-bats with runners on base and .625 in eight at-bats with the bases loaded.

Castro, who turns 31 in March, missed most of the second half in 2006 because of rib cage and knee injuries. The veteran backstop started 32 games and appeared in five others, batting .238 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 126 at-bats.

The Mets haven't had an arbitration case go to a hearing since David Cone won his case and was awarded $4.25 milion, and Kevin Elster ($760,000 rather than the $1.35 million he had submitted) and Jeff Innis ($355,000 rather than the $650,000 he had submitted) lost.

Marty Noble is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.