Fourteen players became eligible for free agency when their teams declined to offer salary arbitration by the Thursday midnight deadline and nine were among the 20 players who filed yesterday, raising the free agent total to 79.

Filing yesterday from this group: First basemen Danny Heep of Boston and Gary Ward of Detroit; catchers Rich Gedman of Houston, Bob Boone of Kansas City and Rick Dempsey of Los Angeles; second basemen Willie Randolph of Oakland and Wally Backman of Pittsburgh, and pitchers Tom Niedenfuer of St. Louis and John Candelaria of Toronto.

Five who were not offered arbitration but did not file and have until Nov. 4 to do so: California outfielder Brian Downing and pitcher Greg Minton, Seattle first baseman-outfielder Ken Griffey Sr., San Diego outfielder Fred Lynn and San Francisco catcher Terry Kennedy.

Other players filing yesterday: Chicago Cubs infielder Curtis Wilkerson; Kansas City pitcher Steve Crawford, infielder Steve Jeltz and outfielder Willie Wilson; Milwaukee pitcher Paul Mirabella; New York Mets pitcher Dan Schatzeder; Pittsburgh pitchers Jerry Reuss and Zane Smith and catcher Don Slaught; St. Louis infielder Denny Walling, and Toronto third baseman Rance Mulliniks. . . .

Milwaukee Brewers left-hander Teddy Higuera, who filed for free agency earlier this week, had a small bone chip removed from his right kneecap during an operation in Milwaukee. He was bothered by injuries during the 1990 season and finished 11-10 with a 3.76 ERA in 27 starts. . . .

Reds outfielder Eric Davis returned to Cincinnati from Oakland and checked into a hospital to continue treatment for a lacerated kidney suffered in the final game of the World Series. He is expected to remain hospitalized for a few days.