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Hot Stove: Some non-tender surprises

Some non-tender surprises

The non-tender deadline came eight days early this year, thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and it also came with a few mild surprises as Marcus Giles, Chris Reitsma, Victor Zambrano and Joel Pineiro were among the arbitration-eligible players who became free agents because they were not tendered contracts by their 2006 teams by midnight ET on Tuesday.

The Braves had been attempting to trade Giles, the former All-Star second baseman, but when those efforts were unsuccessful, the team decided to cut ties with Giles by non-tendering him before the deadline.

Teams are obligated to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players for at least one year at no less than 80 percent of the player's previous season's salary by the deadline, otherwise the player becomes a free agent available to sign with any club for the Major League minimum ($380,000 beginning in 2007) or more.

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That meant the Braves would have to offer Giles at least $3.08 million and he would have likely received perhaps twice that amount through arbitration.

"We have to make some financial decisions every year," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said of Giles. "This was one of those tough ones."

The Mets faced a similar choice with the talented but oft-injured Zambrano, whose minimum would have been $2.4 million.

Reitsma, who was paid $2.75 million in 2006, began last season as Atlanta's closer before missing the final three months of the season with an elbow injury that required surgery. Schuerholz said the Braves are evaluating whether to bring Reitsma back at a lower cost.

The Braves did tender contracts to their two other arbitration eligibles, Adam LaRoche and Oscar Villarreal.

The Braves were very close to completing a deal last week at the Winter Meetings that would have sent Giles and LaRoche to the Orioles for second baseman Brian Roberts and right-handed pitcher Hayden Penn. But there was very little other interest on the trade market for Giles, perhaps because other GMs were waiting to see if the Braves non-tendered him.

Pineiro, 28, was 8-13 with a 6.36 ERA for the Mariners in 2006, including a 7-12 record with a 6.62 ERA in his starts and 1-1, 4.81 with one save in 15 relief appearances. But he would have been due no less than $5.04 million after earning $6.3 million last season.

Other non-tenders included Yankees outfielder Aaron Guiel, Colorado right-hander Chin-hui Tsao, Cincinnati left-hander Brandon Claussen and catcher Miguel Perez, Detroit outfielder Alexis Gomez, Dodgers outfielder Jayson Werth and catcher Toby Hall, Orioles right-handers Todd Williams and Aaron Rakers and outfielder David Newhan, White Sox right-hander Eduardo Sierra, Kansas City right-handers Brandon Duckworth and Scott Dohmann, Angels right-hander Jason Bulger, A's right-hander Jerome Williams, Tampa Bay outfielder Damon Hollins, Twins right-hander Willie Eyre and infielder Luis Rodriguez, Cubs catcher Jose Reyes and right-hander Adam Harben, Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel and right-hander Jorge Sosa, Padres outfielder Jon Knott and Rangers right-hander Mike Wood.

Elsewhere on the Tuesday Hot Stove:

Astros: The addition of Jason Jennings addresses the last major void on the roster, but GM Tim Purpura wouldn't rule out other minor moves after adding Jennings, Carlos Lee and Woody Williams.

"There's some things that are out there that we're looking at," Purpura said. "From here on out, you look at situations that might come up and see if you can improve yourself in incremental ways."

The Astros are hoping Roger Clemens returns, but nothing was new on that front Tuesday.

"We've had no discussions, we don't expect anything in the near term," Purpura said.

Brewers: Infielder Jeff Cirillo said he expects to sign a one-year contract this week with the Twins and will serve as a backup infielder. He'll undertake a physical on Wednesday or Friday. Cirillo's potential playing time in Milwaukee was cut when the team signed veteran Craig Counsell and then made an arbitration offer to free agent Tony Graffanino, who accepted.

Diamondbacks: According to The Arizona Republic, the D-backs have made an offer to free agent pitcher Mark Mulder. The East Valley Tribune reported Arizona may have interest in free agent left-hander David Wells.

Mariners: According to sources, Seattle is close to signing veteran right-hander Miguel Batista to a three-year contract. Batista, who turns 36 on Feb. 19, was 11-8 with a 4.48 ERA in 34 games (33 starts) for the Diamondbacks in 2006.

Padres: Marcus Giles, who hit .262 with 11 homers and a .387 slugging percentage in 2006, could soon sign a contract with the Padres. If he does, he'll be able to play with his older brother, Brian, in their hometown of San Diego.

Pirates: The Beaver County Times reports the Pirates have signed right-hander Masumi Kuwata to a Minor League deal. Kuwata, 38, has posted a 173-141 record and a 3.55 ERA in 21 seasons with the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Central League.

Rangers: The Rangers, who agreed to terms with right-hander Eric Gagne on Tuesday, also met with Mulder, who is also being pursued by the Diamondbacks.

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

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