Resetting the Dodgers 40-Man Roster For The Winter

So I delayed this by a few hours to talk about Ned Colletti, and then Eric at TBLA beat me to it by doing the exact same thing, almost exactly. I mean, to be expected, and Eric’s great and all. So at the risk of looking like this is completely a facsimile even though it was written 48 hours ago, hey, let’s roster! Remember, you can always find this information on our payroll page, at least when I remember to update it.

Here’s how things are aligned right now:

Free agents (7)

Players are able to sign with new teams five days after the conclusion of the World Series.

Of these, really the only question is Ramirez, because the rest seem like obvious departures. (Maybe Wright gets a non-roster deal to return, maybe.) I think we can all agree that he’s going to make it to free agency without an extension; at the very least, offering him a qualifying offer (one year, $15.3m) seems like a no-brainer, because then you either get him back for one year, or you get a draft pick when he signs elsewhere. Yes, I’ve seen the suggestions that maybe they won’t do that. I have a very, very hard time seeing that.

Team options (1)

Billingsley missed most of 2013 and all of 2014 with arm injuries, and so it’s all but certain that the Dodgers will buy his contract out for $3m rather than pay him $14m to return. That would make him a free agent, though it wouldn’t be out of the question that they then later agree to bring him back for a smaller amount, if he’s willing.

Player options (2)

Haren’s player option vested when he reached 180 innings, though he’s said that he hasn’t fully decided if he’s going to pitch in 2015. My guess is that he will, because $10m for one year to pitch on a good team close to home is tough to walk away from. Wilson might have walked out on his option in search of a big multi-year deal if he’d had a big year, but he of course didn’t, so of course he’ll be back. He’s reportedly already told the team he’s taking it, though we haven’t seen anything official.

Under contract (13)

By the way, these are 2015 salaries, which are not the same as what’s in the books for the luxury tax, since that’s the average annual value of the entire contract. This group alone accounts for $169m; add Haren and Wilson, and that’s $188.5m already.

Guerrero, remember, has two important clauses in his contact — he can’t be sent to the minors without his permission following his first year, and if he’s traded, he can become a free agent at the end of that year. Though Arruebarrena does have a guaranteed contract, he can — and likely will — spend time in the minors. Enjoy Oklahoma City!

Arbitration-eligible (8)

December 2 is the deadline for teams to offer arbitration or otherwise non-tender eligible players, making them free agents.

Gordon qualified as a “Super 2,” so he’ll have four arbitration years. Bernadina is almost certainly non-tendered, and maybe Elbert too. Gordon, Turner, and Jansen are absolute no-brainers, and Jansen could get a nice raise from his $4.33m 2014 salary. Ellis made $3.5m in 2014, and would get a mild raise to around $4m; I can’t really see the team non-tendering him simply due to the lack of other options, how highly-regarded he is by the pitching staff, and how much of his offensive struggles could be attributed to repeated leg injuries, but I suppose there’s at least a non-zero chance. Butera and Barney could go either way.

This group, assuming Wilson and Haren, will easily push the total payroll over $200m.

On 40-man roster, under team control (15)

These are the players with under three years of service time who were already on the 40-man roster. To remove them now would require DFA’ing them. An asterisk (*) means the player is out of options, though know that there is no official listing of that, so that may be incomplete.

Fife and Withrow, of course, both had Tommy John surgery this year and would start 2015 on the 60-day disabled list. However, the disabled lists don’t exist in the winter, so they would need to be carried on the 40-man all winter. That seems certain for Withrow; you could see Fife getting axed if a spot was needed.

So! Let’s assume that all seven free agents leave, Billingsley is bought out, and Haren & Wilson both return. Here’s how that math works out, in terms of 40-man roster spots:

15 team control +
8 arbitration-eligible +
13 under contract +
2 exercised player options =

38 players on the 40-man.

Some of those arbitration guys will get let go, but until that happens, they’re part of the 40-man roster. But wait! There’s more. In November, the Dodgers will need to protect players from the Rule 5 draft by adding them to the 40-man roster, and that’s always a fun crapshoot, because it’s never clear who does and doesn’t need to be protected. Here’s how MLBTR defines it:

Remember, players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren’t on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed.

I’m positive that Dustin will get into this in more detail in the weeks to come, but for now, it’s worth keeping in mind when you’re setting the 40-man for the winter. Last year, that’s how Baez, Y.Garcia, and Martin ended up on the 40-man. Guys like Chris Reed and Zach Lee are fine for another year, I think, but someone like Scott Schebler could be added. Like I said, I haven’t researched this fully, but usually 1-3 players get added to the 40-man. Sometimes, the Dodgers take a player in the Rule 5 draft, too. Hey, remember Seth Rosin? Me neither.

* * *

Keeping that in mind, the 40-man is close to full. Fife could get let go, and absolutely a few of those arbitration-eligible players will be non-tendered, so that’ll open up another spot or two. The roster as shown above doesn’t have a full starting rotation, answers in the bullpen, a certain shortstop, or answers to the outfield overflow. Moves must be made… and the fact that we can’t yet say with the utmost certainty who is going to be making those moves yet adds another layer of complexity.

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