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Yankees non-tender Wang but would like to keep him

New York Yankees starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang works

New York Yankees starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang works in the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves. Credit: AP

The Yankees officially non-tendered former ace Chien-Ming Wang last night, but they expressed an interest in retaining him. Nevertheless, the odds favor Wang spending the 2010 season with another club.

Wang served as the Yankees' only non-tender. They offered contracts to their other arbitration-eligible players - Melky Cabrera, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre. As per the terms of the collective-bargaining agreement, the Yankees could have cut Wang's pay no more than 20 percent had they tendered him a contract, and they weren't willing to give Wang, who made $5 million in 2009, a $4-million deal.

"There's no doubt that we had to make a tough decision," general manager Brian Cashman said. "We are still hopeful that our relationship can continue, but those decisions are yet to be made."

The righthander had surgery on his pitching shoulder in late July, and agent Alan Nero expressed confidence this past week that Wang could be ready by or near Opening Day. The Yankees think Wang will be ready by June at the earliest, and they'll likely offer him no more than a minor-league contract.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre and third-base coach Larry Bowa know Wang from his time as the Yankees' top starting pitcher, and Los Angeles figures to offer Wang a guaranteed deal. Wang went 1-6 with a 9.64 ERA for the Yankees this past season.

Around the industry, the A's non-tendered productive DH Jack Cust and the Rockies parted ways with corner infielder Garrett Atkins. Former Met Ryan Church received his walking papers from the Braves, as did second baseman Kelly Johnson.

Cust, who turns 30 next month, had a decent season, hitting 25 homers with a .356 on-base percentage and a .417 slugging percentage. But through the arbitration process, he'd be due a raise from his salary of $2.8 million, and the cash-strapped A's didn't want to pay that raise.

Atkins, who turned 30 yesterday, put up a woeful .308 on-base percentage and .342 slugging percentage in 2009. It marked his worst season since he became a full-time big-leaguer, and he made $7.05 million.

Other non-tenders included Nationals reliever Mike MacDougal, Cubs reliever Neal Cotts and Reds outfielder Jonny Gomes.

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