MLB Trade Rumors has turned into a pretty solid baseball reference — provided you know how to use it. In a yearly series, MLBTR released its projected arbitration salaries for arb-eligible players. Matt Swartz does a great job with this feature every year and quite accurate.
This year, the Dodgers have eight — and potentially nine — arb-eligible players. There are four players who are locks to receive a tender offer, while the other four are no guarantee to return. And then there’s Yasiel Puig. Service time (years.days) in parenthesis.
Grandal is obvious (despite people who think otherwise for comical reasons), as is Wood. Grandal will be the starting catcher and Wood could easily find himself back in the rotation. Avilan had some solid moments (including leading baseball in exit velocity against), and Fields has enough stuff and potential to be interesting. In Avilan and Fields, the risk is so minimal ($2.7 million) that the reward far, far outweighs it.
All three of these guys could be decent contributors, but there are a lot of question marks. Coleman is basically a right-handed specialist without premium stuff, and he wore down a bit during the season. Van Slyke dealt with injuries in 2016 and ultimately had wrist surgery. SVS has long since been compared to Jayson Werth, and if he is non-tendered and goes on to be successful, the comparison will continue to be apt. Comparisons aside, the Dodgers struggled so much against left-handed pitching that having a healthy Van Slyke and a chance that he goes back to mashing them might be worth the 40-man roster spot (the money is inconsequential). Hatcher has some really good stuff, but his command was iffy for a second consecutive season and he dealt with some injury issues of his own. For $1.4 million, the Dodgers could probably do worse for a middle reliever (not a late-inning, high-leverage guy), but I’m not expecting him back.
Chin-Hui Tsao (4.075) – $800,000
Bet you didn’t even realize Tsao was still on the 40-man roster. Technically, he wasn’t as he was on the 60-day disabled list, but Tsao isn’t good and not worth the $800k it’d cost to keep him. This situation is exactly why minor-league contracts exist — so a team doesn’t have to throw away $800,000 on a guy who probably won’t out-perform anyone in the system.
Yasiel Puig (3.070) – TBD
This is all dependent on Puig opting into arbitration. He’s signed for $6.5 million in 2017 and he’d probably make more through the process, but he’d also be risking the $7.5 million he’s signed in 2018. Considering how he performed most of the 2016 season, he might want to take the sure $14 million. Regardless of what he does, I think he plays for another team in 2017.
I don’t suspect any of these guys will have their arbitration seasons bought out. The only guy I could see getting more than the one-year tender is Grandal. Normally, I wouldn’t balk at giving guys like Coleman, Hatcher and Van Slyke less than $1.5 million (or less), but there’s no guarantee these guys are going to be healthy and/or productive. Regardless, it’s more about the 40-man roster spot, not the money. The roster crunch is here.