Giants offer arbitration to Feliz

Giants offer arbitration to Feliz

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants announced late Saturday night that they offered salary arbitration to third baseman Pedro Feliz, although this hardly assured that the free agent would return to the club in 2008.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean has maintained that Feliz wants a three-year contract. Sabean has called that a "pie-in-the-sky" demand that the Giants are unwilling to meet.

But the Giants still need a third baseman. They'll have one if Feliz is willing to lower his expectations for a one-year deal -- which Sabean is willing to negotiate with him -- and if the Giants don't obtain another third baseman through trade or free agency. The Giants will receive Draft-choice compensation if another club signs Feliz, a Type B free agent who averaged 21 home runs and 84 RBIs a season from 2004-07.

Feliz made $5.1 million in 2007, when he hit .253 with 20 homers and 72 RBIs and played Gold Glove-caliber defense. Despite his .708 OPS (.418 slugging percentage, .290 on-base percentage), arbitration probably would set him up for a raise -- money the Giants would prefer to allocate elsewhere.

The Giants did not offer salary arbitration to their other free agents -- left fielder Barry Bonds, first baseman-outfielder Ryan Klesko, right-hander Russ Ortiz and catcher Mike Matheny.

Despite his status as baseball's all-time home run leader with 762, Bonds has been on shaky ground since he was indicted on Nov. 15 for perjury and obstruction of justice. Given the uncertainty surrounding Bonds' legal troubles, other clubs are likely to avoid trying to sign him. Even without Bonds' off-field concerns, his matchless credentials and his salary level -- his base pay was $15.8 million last season -- would make it risky for the Giants to offer him arbitration, in case he accepted. The Giants announced Sept. 21 that they would not re-sign the seven-time National League Most Valuable Player, who's a Type A free agent.

Klesko, who hit .260 with six homers and 44 RBIs in 116 games last year while earning $1.75 million, simply isn't in the Giants' plans. They're likely to entrust first base to Dan Ortmeier in 2008, unless they obtain a more proven player at the position through trade or free agency.

Hot Stove
Klesko hit a robust .295 before the All-Star break for San Francisco but slumped to .219 afterward, including .147 over just 14 games in September. Klesko isn't a ranked player according to the Elias Sports Bureau's computations, so the Giants will receive no Draft-choice compensation if another club signs him.

Ortiz and Matheny are listed as free agents only as technicalities. Ortiz, 2-3 with a 5.51 ERA in 12 appearances (eight starts) for the Giants last season, is expected to miss 2008 after undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery. Matheny, who is retired with post-concussion syndrome after being hit by a foul tip on May 31, 2006, appears on the free-agent list because his contract expired.

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