With the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players looming tonight at 8pm ET — the MLBPA and MLB jointly agreed to move the deadline up a couple days due to the looming expiration of the collective bargaining agreement — we’ll likely see a slew of arbitration-eligible players signing one-year deals.
It’s commonplace for a large batch of players to sign deals in the hours leading up to the tender deadline. “Pre-tender” deals of this nature often fall shy of projections due to the fact that teams use the looming threat of a non-tender to enhance their leverage. Arbitration contracts at this juncture are often take-it-or-leave-it propositions, with the “leave it” end of that arrangement resulting in the player being cut loose. Given the widely expected lockout, there could be more incentive than usual for borderline non-tender candidates to take those offers rather than being cast out into free agency just ours before a transaction freeze is implemented.
As a reminder, arbitration contracts are not fully guaranteed. In a typical year, a team can cut a player on an arb contract at any point before the halfway point in Spring Training and only be responsible for 30 days’ termination pay (about one-sixth of the contract). Releasing a player in the second half of Spring Training bumps the termination pay to 45 days of his prorated salary.
MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected salaries for each team’s arbitration-eligible players last month, although for many of the players listed below, this isn’t so much avoiding arbitration as it is avoiding a non-tender. Here’s a look at today’s agreements…Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman agreed to terms with the team on a 2022 contract, tweets Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He’ll be paid $1.95MM, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic adds. A Gold Glove finalist in 2021, Newman hit just .226/.265/.309 but was one of the best defensive players at any position. He’s controlled another three seasons. The Rays and Ji-Man Choi agreed to a $3.2MM salary for the 2022 campaign, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The 30-year-old swatted 11 homers in 305 plate appearances and offset a low batting average with a huge 14.8% walk rate. Overall, Choi hit .229/.348/.411. He’s controllable through 2023. The Rockies agreed to a one-year, $1.025MM deal with righty Tyler Kinley, tweets Thomas Harding of MLB.com. The 30-year-old has a 4.88 ERA in 94 innings over the past two seasons, including a 4.73 mark in 70 1/3 frames this past season. Kinley’s big swinging-strike rates and 96 mph fastball velocity suggest he could improve upon this year’s 23.1% strikeout rate.
Earlier DealsThe Orioles are in agreement on a $1.5MM deal with starter Jorge Lopez. The 28-year-old is coming off a tough showing, having worked to a 6.07 ERA over 121 2/3 innings. Lopez induced a fair amount of ground-balls and ate up plenty of innings, though, and he’ll now get another chance to compete for a spot in a wide-open Baltimore rotation. He remains controllable through 2024. The Mariners have agreed on a $1.025MM deal with reliever Casey Sadler, per Murray. The 31-year-old led all pitchers (minimum 40 innings) with a 0.67 ERA over 40 1/3 frames this past season. Along the way, he racked up ground-balls on a massive 62.9% of balls in play against him. He’s controllable through 2024. The Brewers announced they’ve come to terms with reliever Jandel Gustave. The hard-throwing righty worked 18 1/3 innings of 3.44 ERA/4.35 SIERA ball across 14 appearances this past season. He remains controllable through 2024. Gustave’s deal is a split contract that pays him $675K while he’s in the majors, according to Robert Murray of FanSided (on Twitter). The Diamondbacks have agreed to a $1.25MM deal with reliever Noe Ramirez, reports Zach Buchanan of the Athletic (Twitter link). The 31-year-old (32 next month) is entering his penultimate season of club control. The vertex righty had a quietly solid season in the desert, working to an even 3.00 ERA across 36 innings, albeit with less impressive strikeout and walk numbers. The Padres have come to terms with relievers Austin Adams and Tim Hill, reports Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (Twitter link). Adams will make $925K; Hill is in line for a $1.325MM salary. Both pitchers have an additional two seasons of arbitration control remaining. Adams overcame a staggering amount of hits-by-pitch and walks to post a 4.10 ERA over 52 2/3 innings, striking out 31.5% of opponents. Hill racked up grounders at a 60.6% clip en route to a 3.62 ERA. The Giants have reached a $1.725MM deal with reliever Jarlin Garcia, per Rosenthal. The southpaw pitched to a sterling 2.62 ERA over 68 2/3 frames in 2021 with solid strikeout and walk numbers. He’s controllable through 2023. The A’s and righty Deolis Guerra agreed to a one-year deal worth $815K, tweets Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Guerra, 32, posted a 4.11 ERA in a career-high 65 2/3 innings with the A’s in 2021. He’ll give them an affordable arm for the coming season but doesn’t come with a lengthy track record of big league success. The Rockies and Daniel Bard came to terms on a $4.4MM salary for the 2022 campaign, tweets Rosenthal. Bard’s Rockies resurgence after seven years away from the Majors was a remarkable story. The team opted not to trade him at the deadline, and he struggled immensely with a 6.65 ERA thereafter (ballooning his season-long ERA to 5.21). The Rockies view Bard as an important piece in 2022, however, evidenced both by the lack of trade and the $4.4MM commitment despite a shaky finish. Right-hander Ryan Brasier agreed to a $1.4MM salary with the Red Sox for the upcoming season, tweets Robert Murray of FanSided. The 2021 season was a nightmare for Brasier, who suffered a broken finger in Spring Training, strained a calf muscle while rehabbing that injury and then was hospitalized after being struck in the head by a comeback liner while working back from the calf issue. The 34-year-old made it back to the mound in September and pitched to a 1.50 ERA in 12 frames. Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander has agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.15MM, tweets Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. The 27-year-old was a bright spot in the 2020 Baltimore lineup but saw his OBP dip back under .300 in a down year at the plate in 2021. Santander still popped 18 homers and 24 doubles. He’s controllable for another three years, and the O’s will hope for a rebound from this year’s .241/.286/.433 slash. The Braves signed outfielder Guillermo Heredia to a one-year deal worth $1MM, tweets Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Heredia, 32 in January, played a larger role than expected in 2021 given the general tumult in the Atlanta outfield. His .220/.311/.354 batting line isn’t much to look at, but he was a solid hand against lefties (.258/.330/.427) and is a capable defender at all three outfield slots. The Brewers announced that infielder/outfielder Jace Peterson signed a one-year contract. The 31-year-old was arbitration-eligible for the final time after hitting .247/.348/.368 through 302 plate appearances. Peterson split his time between second base, third base, first base and the outfield with Milwaukee in 2021, and that versatility likely tickets him for a utility role again in 2022. Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez signed a one-year deal worth $725K today, tweets Rosenthal. That represents a rare pay cut in arbitration — albeit only by $3,000 — which is understandable after Dominguez missed nearly the entire season while recovering from 2020 Tommy John surgery. He made it back to the mound for one inning in the season’s final game, and Dominguez should be counted on to play a large role in the relief corps next season. In 83 2/3 MLB innings, Dominguez has a 3.23 ERA and a huge 30.3% strikeout rate against a 9.9% walk rate. He saved 16 games for the Phils as a rookie in 2018. Right-hander John Brebbia and the Giants agreed to a one-year deal worth $837,500, Rosenthal tweets. The 31-year-old signed an $800K deal with San Francisco last winter after being non-tendered by St. Louis on the heels of Tommy John surgery. Brebbia returned to throw 18 1/3 innings in 2021 but was tattooed for a 5.89 ERA in that brief time. That said, his 22-to-4 K/BB ratio was excellent, and Brebbia held a 3.14 ERA and 3.39 FIP through 175 career innings in three seasons with the Cards. Given that track record and strong K-BB%, it’s not surprising that the Giants would want to take another look. Zach Buchanan of The Athletic tweets that the Diamondbacks avoided arbitration with reliever J.B. Wendelken, signing him to a one-year deal worth $835K. The 28-year-old Wendelken was somewhat surprisingly designated for assignment in Oakland this summer despite a solid track record, and the D-backs pounced on him with the top waiver priority in the game. Wendelken posted a 4.33 ERA in 43 2/3 innings this season but carries a more impressive 3.05 ERA and 3.42 FIP with a 24% strikeout rate and 9.5% walk rate over his past 118 big league frames.