Feliciano may be back — at a price

Moments after new general manager Sandy Alderson revealed last week that the Mets would offer arbitration to lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano, a reporter asked Alderson if he was willing to stomach the risk that Feliciano might accept.

feliciano.jpg“Apparently,” Alderson said, chuckling.

It was a nervous chuckle, because it’s a legitimate risk. If Feliciano, a Type B free agent, opts to accept arbitration — something his agent told Newsday he is considering doing — then the Mets would be forced to offer him a one-year contract at a raise from the $2.9 million he made last season. Spending close to $4 million on a lefty reliever is a luxury that some winning teams may be able to stomach, but for a rebuilding team such as the Mets, it’s simply bad business. The Mets have a finite budget this winter, with reportedly as little as $5 to $10 million to spend on the open market. Allotting more than half of it to an aging, overworked specialist may set things back a bit.

The Mets would most likely be better served if Feliciano rejected arbitration and signed elsewhere, thus netting his old team a second-round Draft pick. But Feliciano lives in New York, loves New York and wants to stay here. Doing so for guaranteed millions may sound like a pretty good deal to him. Such was the risk of offering arbitration.

Then again, lefty relievers are often in high demand come midsummer. So if Feliciano does accept arbitration, the Mets could bank on him starting out strong and building enough trade value that, if they’re lucky, could net them something more than a second-round pick. But given Feliciano’s age, salary and history of usage, that is most certainly a risk.

Feliciano’s deadline to accept or reject arbitration is this Tuesday, Nov. 30.

—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

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