Important dates

With the San Francisco Giants having won the World Series on Monday night, it's now on to the hot-stove season. And this year it starts earlier.

The new rule for 2010-11: Clubs may start bidding on free agents at midnight of the fifth day after the World Series -- which means Saturday night. (Reminder: Sandy Alderson has acknowledged the Mets likely won't be players on big-ticket items.)

For Pedro Feliciano free-agency followers: The Mets must offer salary arbitration by midnight on Nov. 23 for right to draft-pick compensation if the southpaw ultimately signs elsewhere. (The Mets would get a pick between the first and second rounds because Feliciano is a Type B free agent.)

Assuming the Mets offer Feliciano arbitration, he must decide whether to accept by Nov. 30 -- essentially deciding to return on a one-year contract at a salary to be determined by an arbitrator if not settled beforehand. That salary presumably would be at a raise -- perhaps sizable -- from the $2.9 million he made this season. The Mets are still permitted to re-sign Feliciano even if they don't offer arbitration, which differs from the Hisanori Takahashi situation.

Takakashi must be cut loose Friday if he's not re-signed by then. He could not return to the Mets until May 15 if he's released, ensuring he would sign elsewhere.

The non-tender deadline for players with more than three but less than six years' service time is now Dec. 2.

Because those arbitration-eligible players must make at least 80 percent of their 2010 salary -- and rarely, if ever, actually get a pay cut -- John Maine is a goner by that date if not sooner. Maine made $3.2 million this season. (As an aside, Maine indicated his right shoulder is finally feeling well after getting a tear in the capsule surgically repaired.)

Sean Green likely would have been non-tendered as well under the old regime after making $975,000 this past season, but given the lack of arms in the bullpen, perhaps that will be revisited.

Jeff Francoeur, who made $5 million this year, is now a non-tender by the Texas Rangers instead of the Mets.

Besides Feliciano, the Mets have four other free agents: Henry Blanco, Elmer Dessens, Kelvim Escobar and Fernando Tatis. Dessens has indicated he will only pitch in 2011 if he gets a major league deal somewhere -- not his customary minor league deal with invitation to spring training. Otherwise, Dessens plans to retire.