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12/12/09 3:55 PM EST

Non-tender deadline looms for clubs

Saturday's tough decisions could spark Hot Stove action

Garrett Atkins' name has been out there for months, with the writing on the wall that the Rockies wouldn't be tendering him a contract for 2010, making him a free agent-to-be.

After 11:59 p.m. ET Saturday, there figures to be a few more interesting names out there once the deadline to offer contracts to unsigned players on 40-man rosters passes.

As clubs make decisions to keep arbitration-eligible players or cut them loose, some experienced players -- such as the third baseman on the Rockies' 2007 World Series club -- will be added to the list of free agents available.

Chien-Ming Wang, a two-time 19-game winner for the Yankees coming off shoulder surgery, is expected to be among those entering the market, and difficult calls await several clubs.

The Rays, for instance, might have to choose between catchers Dioner Navarro and Kelly Shoppach, possibly tendering a contract to only one of the two, or maybe tendering both and then trying to trade one. The A's have to weigh whether to tender a contract to Jack Cust, who has led the team in homers the last three years.

Others who might not be tendered contracts include White Sox reliever D.J. Carrasco, who led the American League with 89 1/3 relief innings pitched in 2009, and Reds outfielder Jonny Gomes, who had 20 homers after being called up in May.

The Atkins situation has been public knowledge since before the Rockies made their late run to the playoffs. With Ian Stewart ready to take over third base and Atkins struggling much of 2009 while making $7.05 million, his fate has been all but sealed for quite some time.

The vast majority of arbitration-eligible players will be retained by their clubs, and the two sides will negotiate on a one-year or multi-year contract. Players may file for arbitration Jan. 5-15 while continuing to negotiate, and the two sides would exchange salary figures Jan. 19. If no deal is reached, the two sides would go to an arbitration hearing in February, with one of the two figures being chosen.

While likely parting ways with Wang, the Yankees are expected to stick with outfielder Melky Cabrera and right-hander Chad Gaudin. As the deadline loomed, the Braves came to terms on a one-year deal with outfielder Matt Diaz and the Pirates did likewise with Ronny Cedeno.

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