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02/06/09 3:30 PM EST

Feliciano, Mets settle on contract

Left-handed reliever to earn $1,612,500 in 2009 campaign

NEW YORK -- The Mets' disdain for the fickle process and a compromise have fueled a settlement in their potential salary arbitration case against Pedro Feliciano. The pitcher, likely to be their lone left-handed setup man, agreed on Friday to a $1,612,500 salary for 2009, eliminating the club's final potential case this year.

Feliciano became the sixth Met to settle. Only he and John Maine exchanged proposals with the club. Ryan Church, Angel Pagan, Jeremy Reed and Duaner Sanchez agreed before Jan. 20, the day proposals were submitted.

The figure the 32-year-old pitcher accepted was $37,500 less than the midpoint between the exchanged figures. Feliciano, who earned $1.04 million last season, sought an increase to $1.95 million. The Mets' proposal was for $1.35 million.

By avoiding hearings with Feliciano and Maine, the club returned to its preferred practice. Before the Mets lost to Oliver Perez in arbitration last year, they hadn't gone to a hearing in 16 years.

The trade that moved Scott Schoeneweis to the Diamondbacks in December made Feliciano the lone lefty reliever on the Mets' 40-man roster, other than recuperating Billy Wagner. Rookie Jon Niese, whose three big league appearances came last year in a starting role, conceivably could win a job as a left-handed long reliever. But his long-term future is as a starter.

Hot Stove
General manager Omar Minaya has said, given the pool of potential lefty setup men available, he is inclined to carry one -- Feliciano -- and count on Sanchez and, in some instances, J.J. Putz, both right-handed, to serve as crossover relievers.

A report Thursday had the Mets expressing interest in left-handed free-agent reliever Will Ohman, late of the Braves. But a person familiar with the Mets' thinking said Friday little chance exists that the club will add any player to its 40-player roster before Spring Training. Adding a player with a split contract, as the club has done with veteran pitcher Elmer Dessens as well as Heriberto Ruelas of the Mexican League, is more likely, the person said.

The Mets signed Dessens, 38, and Ruelas, 26, and invited them to camp. They will join a legion of non-roster players, including veteran left-handed relievers Tom Martin and Casey Fossum, to whom the club has extended invitations.

Mets' 2009 arbitration-eligible players
2009 request
'09 offer
'09 salary
R. Church3.152OF$2,000,000$2,800,000
P. Feliciano4.059LHP$1,040,000$1,950,000$1,350,000$1,612,500
J. Maine3.013RHP$450,000**$3,000,000$2,200,000$2,600,000
A. Pagan*2.144OF$401,500$575,000
J. Reed3.016OF$405,000$925,000
D. Sanchez5.075RHP$950,000$1,687,500
* -- Super 2
** -- 2008 contract was renewed
The person also said the club has discussed -- but has not pursued -- veteran infielder Rich Aurilia to address its need for a right-handed bat off the bench, and that it isn't inclined to replace Ramon Castro as the primary reserve catcher with Robinson Cancel. Castro hit seven homers and drove in 22 runs in the 40 games he started.

None of the available right-handed hitters, the person said, "rises to the level of what we're looking for. ... We'll probably wait to see what players become available [in Spring Training]."

He also said Cancel is unlikely to approach the level of offensive production the club projects for Castro and therefore not a suitable replacement for oft-injured veteran.

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