Thoughts on the non-tender deadline, while waiting for Valverde.

The Winter Meetings could be slow for budget-conscious teams, not only because of payroll restraints, but because the non-tender date doesn’t arrive until after the Meetings have concluded.

Dec. 12 (Saturday) is the deadline for clubs to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. With so many teams holding a tight line on their 2010 payrolls, a lot of quality players due for hefty raises in arbitration could become available by being non-tendered by their clubs.

This will present an opportunity for the Astros to perhaps find affordable free agents to fill out their roster. Conversely, I do envision the Astros deciding tendering contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players.

To illustrate a typical non-tender opportunity, consider the Astros’ decision this time last year to non-tender Ty Wigginton. He had a good year and was probably going to make upwards of $7 million in arbitration, which was too much for the Astros to commit to a position player who was a solid player but wasn’t considered one of the elite third baseman (incidentally, Wigginton’s best months were after he took over left field for Carlos Lee).

In the past, the non-tenders were considered something of the “scrap heap,” but not anymore. Economics have partly played a role in the quality of non-tenders improving, and the Astros will be on the lookout for a possible pickup.

Meanwhile, things are probably going to be slow for the Astros during their four-day stay in chilly Indianapolis. They spent Monday talking about their players and players around the league, but mostly, they were simply waiting to hear whether Jose Valverde accepted or rejected their offer of arbitration. If he rejects, the Astros might have some money to play with. If he accepts, they’ll have their closer for 2010 (a good thing), but very little money to fill out the rest of the roster (not so good).

Some highlights from Ed Wade’s daily end-of-the-day session with the media:

On Miguel Tejada:
“I talked to Diego Benz (Tejada’s agent) two weeks ago. I’d categorize it as a candid conversation.” Reiterated earlier stance that the Astros’ interest in Tejada is “to play third base, at a reduced price.” Wade has not heard back from Tejada’s camp since that conversation.

On Valverde arbitration decision:
“I would assume most of these guys offered will wait until the last minute to accept or reject.” (Deadline is midnight)

Wade rattled off four names who could possibly act as setup men in ’10: Alberto Arias, Jeff Fulchino, Chris Sampson, LaTroy Hawkins.

Said he could fortify the bench “sooner rather than later.”

And finally, “From a trade standpoint, candidly, it’s quiet on our front at this point.”

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1 Comment

Who is the one who’s gonna tell the fans, that again next year the Astros will be having lunch with the Pirates?
Tell us there will be NO added starter to the rotation.
Tell us how much Drayton McLane wants us all to buy
tickets to his games.
Tell us who paid for that multi million dollar baseball park.
Tell us how the Astros are going to be “champions” again
next year. Tell us please, why this owner refuses to make
the Astros competitive. Thanks!

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