Yesterday was the deadline for teams to tender arbitration-eligible players. In more natural terms, that means yesterday was the last chance for teams to decide they would bring back players without contracts, and without enough service time to walk away in free agency.
Even that last statement doesn't make a whole lot of sense, because non-tendered players become free agents. Some people say baseball's roster rules are excessively complex. I say they are just complex enough to be amusing.
The Mariners did not make any huge moves, but each is worth a few thoughts.
David Aardsma and Brandon League were tendered, so they are set to get raises over their 2010 salaries. They made $2.75 million and $1.0875 million, respectively, last season. It would have been stunning if either had been non-tendered, given their roles, production, and prices.
Josh Wilson was signed to a one-year contract, the first MLB contract he has ever received in his career. From the Mariners perspective, it was an excuse to not tender him. It's not that big of a deal. However, I would have to imagine that it is a big deal for Wilson. He is what he is; a player right on the edge of MLB existence. Although Josh Wilson the player doesn't do anything that excites me, Josh Wilson the person seems to be a guy that is really easy to root for. So, I'm happy to see that he got an MLB deal.
For whatever reason, the Mariners also picked yesterday to sign Erik Bedard to a non-guaranteed contract. He was a free agent, so there was no urgency to decide to sign him or not. Basically, if he's healthy, he gets a roster spot. Otherwise, the M's don't owe him anything. Obviously, there is no way this can end badly on Seattle's end. If Bedard is anywhere close to healthy, it is a fantastic move.
The more I think about it, the more I think that Bedard is worth a separate post. Stay tuned. For me, it was the biggest surprise of all the roster moves, and a very pleasant one.
Now, on to some players that won't be coming back.
Near the deadline, Jose Lopez was traded to the Rockies for RHP Chaz Roe. Lopez seemed to be a certain bet to be non-tendered after the M's turned down his 2011 contract option. Nothing about Roe says major-leaguer, so Colorado essentially won the honor of adding Jose without having to fight other teams in free agency.
Given that Jose Lopez was going to get cut loose for nothing, there is no reason to be all that upset over getting a bad AAA pitcher in return. However, Lopez might do okay in Colorado. It isn't hard for me to see him as a viable starting middle-infielder in Coors Field. This is a no-risk, potentially nice move for the Rockies.
The hardest move to take yesterday was Ryan Rowland-Smith's non-tender. It is by no means a bad move. RRS was arguably the worst pitcher in baseball to log significant innings last year. I like the M's chances of finding someone who can go 1-10 with an ERA north of 6.00 without guaranteeing them an MLB contract with a raise.
The only problem is that Rowland-Smith is such a nice guy, as he reminds everyone with his upbeat tweets. The guy is definitely the type of citizen the Mariners covet, and it is hard to say goodbye to nice guys like him. Ryan's pitching simply did not warrant guaranteed MLB money though. Maybe somebody will give him guaranteed cash, but I don't know who.
Even without an interesting tender or non-tender, there were some mild surprises. I did not expect Lopez to get traded at this point, especially for such a small return. It does look nicer that the M's traded him, instead of cut him loose, even though they got nothing in return. The Josh Wilson deal was a mildly pleasant surprise, with RRS's release was mildly tough to see.
Mild. I think that's an adjective that will work throughout the 2010-2011 offseason for the Mariners.