Mets face deadline on Perez, Ayala

Perez decision clear; Ayala poses question

NEW YORK -- The Mets, in hopes of re-signing Oliver Perez, are all but certain to offer salary arbitration to the free-agent pitcher before the midnight ET Monday deadline and thereby assure themselves of a degree of compensation should Perez opt to continue his career with a different club.

No offers are likely for 10 other '08 Mets -- Pedro Martinez, Moises Alou and Damion Easley among them -- who also filed for free agency last month, though the club has considered extending an offer to Luis Ayala, who ended the 2008 season as the team's closer.

The other players eligible for arbitration include Tony Armas Jr., Orlando Hernandez, Ramon Martinez, Trot Nixon, Ricardo Rincon and Matt Wise.

Though Perez has been a mostly erratic performer in his two-plus seasons with the Mets, he did demonstrate a degree of consistency last summer after Dan Warthen replaced Rick Peterson as pitching coach. Perez completed the sixth inning in 13 successive starts and produced a 2.44 ERA in that sequence. Yet he finished his seventh big league season with a 4.22 ERA and 10-7 record in 34 starts and 194 innings.

But with Martinez unlikely to return, the Mets have a void in their rotation, a void that doubles if Perez signs with another club.

Should they not offer arbitration to Perez, they still could re-sign him, but they won't be compensated if he signs elsewhere. An offer extended guarantees them compensation if he signs with another club. That compensation is based on the value of the player as determined last month in statistical rankings produced for Major League Baseball by the Elias Sports Bureau.

Because Perez was ranked as a Type A player, his signing with a club other than the Mets would bring the Mets two selections in the First-Year Player Draft in June, one from the club signing Perez. The other would be a sandwich pick made between rounds 1 and 2 of the Draft.

Ayala and Alou are the only other Mets free agents ranked; both were Type B plyers.

Hot Stove

Once arbitration is offered, a player has until Dec. 7 to accept. If he does, he is deemed to have signed for one year and his salary is to be determined by an arbitrator in late January or February, unless the two sides come to an agreement before then. Perez, who is represented by Scott Boras, is all but certain not to accept the Mets' offer, preferring instead to remain on the open market where he is likely to command a multiyear contract for significantly more per year than he might be awarded in arbitration.

A club not offering arbitration to a six-year free agent no longer comes with additional disincentive. Until last year, a club not offering arbitration to its former player who had opted for free agency would forfeit its rights to negotiate with the player.

Offering arbitration to free agents by 11:59 p.m. ET Monday is a procedure unrelated to the salary arbitration process that begins next month and involves all unsigned players with three years big league service and not eligible for free agency.

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