The Dodgers tendered contracts to nine arbitration-eligible players today and agreed to one one-year contract before the 5 PM PST non-tender deadline.
There were a few that were far from shoe-ins to be retained, as Dustin went over when he reset the 40-man roster. However, each of the following players will be given a contract or taken to arbitration, which the Dodgers tend to be good at avoiding.
I’ll be alluding to MLB Trade Rumors’ arbitration projections, which tend to be fairly close to accurate. Remember, not all tendered contracts are fully guaranteed.
1/6th of the deal if released before the 16th day of spring training, 1/4th if later in spring training
— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) December 1, 2018
OF Yasiel Puig
Puig is entering his final year of team control and for now remains a Dodger. Earlier today, Dustin wrote about the rumors floating around that would send Puig to Cleveland. I feel like most Dodger fans would hate to see Puig in another jersey, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him traded heading into the final year of team control. Last season, Puig slashed .267/.327/.494 in 444 plate appearances and posted a 123 wRC+, his highest since 2014. MLBTR predicted $11.3M for Puig this coming season after he made $9,214,285 last season.
LHP Alex Wood
Wood is also entering his final year of team control. Like Puig, there’s no guarantee Wood is a Dodger come Spring Training. Wood had a decent season last year, posting a 3.68 ERA/3.53 FIP in 151.2 innings. His velocity wasn’t promising, as his fastball has the second-worst average velocity (89.9 MPH) of his career. Wood is a fine rotation option, but the Dodgers have plenty of those. He’s also entering a walk year, so it would be worth seeing if the Dodgers could get a future piece for him. If not, a spot in the rotation is far from guaranteed. He pitched out of the bullpen in September and remained there throughout the postseason, where he struggled to keep the ball in the park. MLBTR projects Wood to receive $9M next season, up from $6M in 2018.
OF Joc Pederson
Pederson has two years of team control remaining, but it remains to be seen if he spends those two years in Dodger Blue. Pederson posted a 126 wRC+ last season and posted a career-best 19.2 strikeout rate in 443 plate appearances, with only 57 of those coming against left-handed pitching. He could be on the outside looking in at the Dodgers outfield picture, and his name has also been floated in these Cleveland trade rumors. He should be more appealing of a piece than Puig given his extra year of team control, and he’ll undoubtably be cheaper this season. MLBTR projects him for $4.3M in 2019 after receiving $2.6M last season.
IF/OF Enrique Hernandez
Hernandez also has two years of team control remaining. His versatility and newfound ability against righties led to Hernandez setting a new career high with 462 plate appearances in 2018. He posted a .256/.336/.470 triple slash line and had the fifth-highest fWAR among Dodger position players last season at 3.3. He nearly doubled his career total in home runs last season (21 of his 49 career dongs came in 2018), and he actually had a higher OPS and wRC+ against righties than lefties last season. He fell off towards the end of the season and struggled in the postseason, but his versatility is key for the Dodgers and he very well could see a lot of time at second next season. MLBTR projects him to double his salary to $3.2M this season after making $1.6M in 2018.
IF/OF Chris Taylor
This is Taylor’s first year of arbitration. Despite that, MLBTR projects him to make the same as Hernandez, at $3.2M. He broke out in 2017, but regressed a bit last season. Taylor still put together a solid .254/.331/.444 triple slash, but had the highest strikeout rate in the National League at 29.5 percent. He could also be in the conversation at second base next season.
RHP Josh Fields
Fields is entering his final year of team control, and is the first semi-surprising contract tender. Fields posted a 2.20 ERA last season, but that came with a .226 BABIP and a 3.62 FIP. Fields was solid when healthy, but hit the DL with a shoulder injury in late June and returned in mid-September. He looked better in eight September games, but was left off the playoff roster. MLBTR projects a $2.8M contract for Fields, up from $2.2 last season.
LHP Tony Cingrani – 1 year, $2.65M
Cingrani is also entering his final year of team control. He was the first agreement announced earlier today.
#Dodgers agree with LHP Tony Cingrani on one-year, $2.65 contract, fully guaranteed, source tells The Athletic. Most arbitration deals are not guaranteed.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 30, 2018
The Dodgers traded for Cingrani at the 2017 trade deadline, and he finished off the season strong for them. In 19 1/3 innings, Cingrani allowed 15 hits and six earned runs while stranding five of the seven runners he inherited. He posted a 28:6 strikeout:walk rate and figured to be an integral part of the bullpen in 2018. However, in June he left a game in Pittsburgh with shoulder discomfort. Cingrani had a setback and ended up requiring a cortisone shot before returning to face four batters in late September. When Cingrani did pitch, his ERA wasn’t pretty but he struck out 36 batters and walked only six in 22 2/3 innings. If healthy, Cingrani figures to be a huge upgrade to a bullpen that struggled to find a reliable LOOGY last year. Cingrani’s contract is fully guaranteed, but a bit less than MLBTR’s $2.7M projection.
SS Corey Seager
Seager is in his first year of arbitration, and will hopefully be the Dodgers’ Opening Day shortstop in 2019. Seager underwent Tommy John surgery in May and then had surgery on his hip in August. When the Dodgers announced the hip surgery, they stated he’d resume baseball activities in January. As far as I know, he hasn’t had a setback. The Dodgers surely missed Seager last season and spent prospects on Manny Machado to fill in his spot. When healthy, Seager is one of the premier young talents in the game. MLBTR projects a $2.6M contract in 2019 for the 24-year-old.
RHP Pedro Baez
Baez has two remaining years of team control, and after years of ridicule became one of the most trusted bullpen arms for Dodger fans last season. After allowing 11 homers in 2016 and nine homers in 2017, Baez allowed only four last season and struck out 62 batters in 56 1/3 innings. Baez was nails in the postseason, tossing 11 1/3 innings over 10 games and allowing only four hits and two runs while striking out 14. Baez could be the main bridge to Kenley Jansen in 2019 (although it would maybe still be preferable for him to be a seventh-inning guy), and is projected to receive $1.8M after making $1.5M last season.
RHP Yimi Garcia
Garcia is entering his first year of arbitration and is probably the most surprising non-non-tender. Garcia finally returned from Tommy John surgery after almost two years, but struggled with a 5.64 ERA/6.34 FIP in 22 1/3 innings in 2018. He allowed seven dongs and only struck out 18.8 percent of the batters he faced. He only has a $900K projection on MLBTR, but it’s still surprising that he was tendered a contract.
Pat Venditte was the only arbitration-eligible player not tendered a contract. He was designated for assignment on Wednesday after the Dodgers acquired LHP Adam McCreery from Atlanta in exchange for cash.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the Dodgers looked at some of the talent that was non-tendered elsewhere. Jonathan Schoop, Blake Parker, Mike Fiers and Billy Hamilton were all non-tendered today and could be decent additions. If the Dodgers get Bryce Harper, Hunter Strickland was also non-tendered so that could be fun.