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11/30/10 12:30 PM EST

Lefty Feliciano declines Mets' arbitration offer

NEW YORK -- Left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano has declined an offer of arbitration from the Mets, a source confirmed Tuesday, reducing the likelihood he will return to New York.

Feliciano, 34, had until the end of day Tuesday to accept or decline his arbitration offer, which would have netted the lefty a one-year contract worth nearly $4 million. Though he can still negotiate a return to New York, Feliciano is seeking a multiyear deal on the open market; the Mets, given their financial constraints, may not be willing to offer one.

Breaking his own franchise record with 92 appearances last season, Feliciano made $2.9 million through arbitration. He posted a 3.30 ERA and held left-handed hitters to a .211 average, striking out 56 and walking 30 in 62 2/3 innings.

Feliciano has made at least 86 appearances in each of the past three seasons, leading the Majors on each occasion.

By offering Feliciano arbitration, the Mets ensured they will receive a pick between the first and second rounds in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft as compensation if another team signs the Type B free agent. Doing so, however, was a risk. Due to a glut of big contracts, the Mets may have as little as $5 million to $10 million to spend on the open market this season. Allotting more than half of that to Feliciano would have crippled their financial flexibility.

But losing Feliciano may be equally crippling. The Mets have already parted ways with left-hander Hisanori Takahashi, and if Feliciano bolts for another team, they will have only two reliable arms left in their bullpen: closer Francisco Rodriguez and setup man Bobby Parnell, both of whom are coming off season-ending injuries.

The Mets face more decisions later this week, when they must determine whether to tender contracts to their five arbitration-eligible players. R.A. Dickey, Angel Pagan and Mike Pelfrey are locks to receive contract offers from the Mets; John Maine and Sean Green are not.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.