It looks like several teams chose not to offer salary arbitration to their key players, which makes the free agent period more interesting, at least if you are looking for a power bat. Sluggers who weren’t offered arbitration include Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell, and Bobby Abreu. With the Mets perhaps in the market for adding another bat to the lineup (if they can find the money for one), I wouldn’t be surprised if they at least kicked the tires on one of those three, particularly if they could get a deal done in the 2-3 years range. While these hitters might be looking for Carlos Lee money, in this free agent market with the uncertain economy, it appears unlikely that Carlos Lee money is out there for a non-Manny player.
It seems that a lot of pitchers were offered arbitration, though. Brian Fuentes and Francisco Rodriguez, the top closers both linked to the Mets in free agent talks this offseason, will both cost the Mets a first round pick should they sign one of them. The top setup man, Juan Cruz, also received an offer for arbitration; this makes it seem likely to me he winds up back in Arizona. Kerry Wood was not offered arbitration, which makes him more attractive for the Mets. It remains to be seen if the Mets might inquire about Wood; his injury history is definitely scary, particularly with the Mets already paying an injured closer to sit out a year, but for a 1-2 year deal, he might be worth investigating.
Free agent pitchers offered arbitration include the big names; C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe, and Ben Sheets. The Mets also offered Oliver Perez arbitration, meaning if he should sign with another team, they will receive two draft picks as compensation. Lowe had been linked to the Mets in the past, but it appears that the Yankees and Red Sox may have inflated his value past what they are willing to pay, so he may no longer be in play. Burnett had supposedly been cold about returning to the organization that originally drafted him, and Sheets’ injury history made him a longshot to sign with the Mets. Jon Garland, a pitcher whom the Mets have supposedly had interest (and mark me down in the “thanks but no thanks” category on him) was offered arbitration, but as a Type B, he would not cost the Mets a pick.
Oliver Perez was the only Met offered arbitration; Luis Ayala and Moises Alou were not offered arbitration, and would not net the Mets a draft pick should they sign elsewhere. I assume this means that the Mets have no interest in retaining either of these two players, at any cost, and thus did not want to risk them accepting arbitration and returning to the Mets, particularly if they found a noticeable lack of interest on the free agent market. Pedro Martinez was also not offered arbitration, but this was largely irrelevant since he would not have gained the Mets any draft picks either way.