All of the waiver-wire action of the past few days (Rod Barajas, Johnny Damon, and Manny Ramirez leap to mind) got me wondering whether the Mets will make any more moves before the August 31st deadline. The Mets have already passed a few players through waivers successfully, but I don’t anticipate any movement on them due to their price tags (Carlos Beltran) or limited value (Jesus Feliciano, Mike Hessman, Luis Castillo, Jeff Francoeur, and Oliver Perez).
There are, however, two other players on the roster who should be placed on waivers immediately: Pedro Feliciano and Hisanori Takahashi. Don’t get me wrong: both players are useful cogs in the bullpen. But given their respective ages and price tags, they are luxury items that aren’t necessary for a .500 team that’s fallen out of the playoff race.
Ted Berg addressed potentially trading Pedro Feliciano back in July. He was right then, and he’s still right today (the only difference being that the market has significantly narrowed due to the waiver requirement). Feliciano is earning $2.9 million and can expect a raise in the arbitration process this season. While the Mets almost never go in front of an arbitrator, but you can expect them to settle with Pedro somewhere between $3.5 and $4 million. Heck, the Mets signed Scott Schoeneweis to a 3 eyar/$9 million deal just three seasons ago, and I’m sure a) Feliciano is a better pitcher, and b) the market has gone up since then. Can the Mets really afford to pay a lefty-specialist that much when they have so many other roster spots to address?
Takahashi is only making $1 million and to the best of my knowledge (read: the Mets’ page on Cot’s Baseball Contracts), he won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2013, meaning the Mets can retain him until that time while giving him only minimal raises. However, he’ll be 36 next season and there’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to match his current level of success (a term I use loosely: his 98 ERA+ indicates that he’s a slightly below-average pitcher). Sure, there may not be a market for Takahashi, but it can’t possibly hurt to gauge other team’s interest.
As for Feliciano, there’s an additional wrinkle to consider: MLB Trade Rumors is predicting that he’ll qualify as a Type B free agent. As such, if the Mets offer him arbitration and he declines, they’ll receive a sandwich pick in next seasons amateur draft, which will likely be worth more than any prospect they could land after putting him on waivers. But, there’s definitely a market out there for him. For instance, the Yankees would probably be interested in adding a solid lefty-specialist, and that might force Tampa, Boston or even Texas or Minnesota to be interested, if only to their potential playoff opponents from adding to their arsenal. Heck, I could even see the Phillies claiming Feliciano just to ensure that he doesn’t land on the Braves and wreak his usual havoc on Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, and Chase Utley in the playoffs. The Mets might luck into landing a prospect who can help them more cheaply, but if they don’t find a return that they’re interested in, they can still pull him back from waivers. There’s really no downside (aside from bruised egos, I suppose).
There are several scenarios in play and the Mets should at least take this opportunity to make Feliciano and Takahashi available to other teams. Get a gauge of their value, see what they’re worth to the contending teams in both leagues. It’s possible that they’ve been placed on waivers and it hasn’t been leaked yet (waivers are intended to be confidential until another team claims a player), but if they haven’t yet, there’s no real excuse for it. They should be making every attempt to maximize their available assets.