Yesterday was a busy day for the Dodgers. Along with trading for an old friend (which Dustin wrote about here), they managed to agree to one-year deals with each of their seven arbitration-eligible players prior to the deadline.
The Dodgers and Baez agreed on a 1-year, $2.1M contract for next season. He first became arb-eligible last season and received $1.5M in 2018. Coming off a rough finish to 2017, Baez became arguably the most dependable Dodger reliever last season, posting a 2.88 ERA/3.16 FIP over 56 1/3 innings. Baez raised his strikeout rate from 22.9 percent to 26.2 percent while dropping his walk rate from 10.4 percent to 9.7 percent. Perhaps more importantly, after allowing nine homers in 64 innings in 2017, Baez allowed only four last season. He figures to be one of the main bridges to Kenley Jansen in 2019.
Fields will receive $2.85 million in his third year of arbitration, a bump from the $2.2 million he received last season. This is also a slight increase from MLBTR’s projection of $2.8 million. Fields missed a good chunk of last season with a shoulder injury. When he was healthy, Fields saw declines in his walk and strikeout rates and allowed four dongs in 41 innings. A healthy Fields could be a boost to the bullpen and give the Dodgers another quality arm.
In perhaps the most surprising tender, Garcia and the Dodgers agreed on a contract worth $710,000 in his first year of arbitration. Garcia threw 22 1/3 innings last season after throwing only 8.1 in the previous two seasons due to Tommy John Surgery. He struggled last season, posting a 5.64 ERA/6.34 FIP and allowing the third-most home runs among Dodger relievers last year, only behind Jansen and Caleb Ferguson despite pitching less than half as many innings as either of them.
Kiké figures to play a big role in 2019, and he’ll receive $3.725M in his second year of arbitration, up from $1.6 million last season. Hernandez’s best tool is his versatility, but he could end up being a close-to-everyday second baseman next season. Hernandez was essentially an everyday player last season, as his 462 plate appearances were the sixth-most on the team. He responded by donging 21 times and posted the fourth-best strikeout rate among Dodgers with 50 or more plate appearances (16.9 percent). He played every position except catcher and showed he can hit right-handed pitching as well (or even better) than left-handed pitching.
Pederson also had a bounceback offensive season, and with the losses of Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, figures to play a huge role in the outfield this season. Pederson received $5M after making $2.6 million last season. Despite being platooned, Pederson became much more of a contact-hitter, posting a career-best 19.1 strikeout rate but a career-low 9.0 percent walk rate. He hit 25 homers for the third time in four full seasons and figures to be platooned again in 2019. He only had 53 plate appearances against lefties last season and managed a 32 wRC+, compared to a 139 wRC+ against righties.
Taylor should give Hernandez some competition as the everyday second baseman next season, and it’s possible one of the two also starts a bunch of games in the outfield. Taylor’s receiving $3.5M in his first year of arbitration. He’s coming off a disappointing season that saw him lead the National League with 178 strikeouts and hit for less power than he did in his breakout 2017 season.
The biggest name on the list had the most shocking arb number. Seager missed most of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but will receive $4 million in his first arbitration season after MLBTR projected $2.6 million. If Seager’s elbow and hip hold up, he should be a huge addition to the Dodger lineup. In 2016, Seager led qualified shortstops with a 136 wRC+ and followed it up with a 128 wRC+ in 2017, the second-highest among shortstops behind Zack Cozart. Getting that Seager back in the lineup would be a huge addition to a Dodger lineup that could use an offseason addition (just sign Harper damnit).
As usual, True Blue LA had all the numbers and the Dodgers’ currently sit at an estimated $181.4 million.