ST. LOUIS -- Rick Ankiel's lengthy saga with the Cardinals may be over. Or it may have just been given new life.
Ankiel, once a star pitcher now trying to make it back to the Majors as an outfielder, was non-tendered on Tuesday, the club announced. The deadline for tendering contract offers to arbitration-eligible players was 11 p.m. CT on Tuesday night. Any player not tendered a contract became a free agent.
That means Ankiel is a free agent following a season in which he did not appear in a single game due to a knee injury. Ankiel could re-sign with St. Louis, perhaps on a Minor League contract.
If the Cardinals bring Ankiel back on a Minor League deal, they would avoid the difficulty of passing him through waivers if and when he does not make the big-league club -- something that has been an issue the past two springs.
Ankiel was one of two non-tendered Cardinals, along with Jorge Sosa. The right-hander was acquired in a trade from Atlanta in July but struggled as a Cardinal, allowing 10 home runs in 30 2/3 innings.
In a non-surprise, Aaron Miles re-upped for a second year in a Cardinals uniform. Miles will receive a reported $1 million, a nice boost from his pre-arbitration-eligibility $350,000 in 2006. Miles played second base and shortstop in '06, starting at second for a portion of the year and also backing up David Eckstein at short. He'll likely back up Eckstein and new signee Adam Kennedy in '07.
The Cardinals tendered contract offers to lefty Randy Flores and outfielder So Taguchi, their only other arbitration-eligible players. That means that both men remain under St. Louis' control for the upcoming season. Contract details must still be worked out with the two players, both of whom are arbitration-eligible for the first time.
St. Louis remains in search of at least one starting pitcher, and Tuesday's non-tenders around baseball may have provided a couple of intriguing options. Seattle let go right-hander Joel Pineiro, whose ERA has climbed in each of the past five years but is still considered to have exciting stuff.
A better choice might be former Met and Devil Ray Victor Zambrano. The right-hander is best known for being traded for star-in-the-making Scott Kazmir, but Zambrano has been a solidly league average starter for virtually his entire career. Zambrano battled injuries in 2006, but in 2005 he put up a 4.17 ERA in 166 1/3 innings for New York.
Other non-tenders of note included Braves second baseman Marcus Giles and reliever Chris Reitsma, Dodgers outfielder and St. Louis-area native Jayson Werth and Rockies right-hander Chin-hui Tsao.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.