Some pre-arbitration eligible players have already signed million dollar extensions, but arbitration eligibility represents the first chance at a seven figure deal for most Major Leaguers. Here’s a look at which players could be arbitration eligible after the 2012 season. Keep in mind that some of these players could sign extensions and that others will spend too much time in the minor leagues to qualify for arbitration after the season.
I'm assuming the super two cutoff will be less than two years and 146 days of service time (this year's cutoff) given the changes in the new collective bargaining agreement. I've included possible super twos below, adding an asterisk (*) for those with more than a year and 110 days of service but less than a year and 146 days. Here's the position-by-position breakdown:
Matt Wieters, Alex Avila, Buster Posey and A.J. Ellis will be eligible for arbitration a year from now. Jonathan Lucroy* figures to qualify and Carlos Santana* could be eligible if the cutoff drops considerably. Backups Francisco Cervelli, John Jaso, Taylor Teagarden and Josh Thole* are also on track for eligibility.
Matt LaPorta, Gaby Sanchez and Ike Davis are on track for eligibility following the 2012 season and Justin Smoak* could join them. Sanchez is currently on track for the biggest arb-1 salary from this group, but that could change in 2012.
Gordon Beckham, Daniel Murphy and Neil Walker figure to be eligible a year from now and Eric Young Jr.* could also qualify. Walker, a projected super two player, has discussed an extension with the Pirates.
The shortstop class figures to be relatively deep, with regulars such as Alcides Escobar, Reid Brignac, Ian Desmond and Starlin Castro on track for eligibility. Everth Cabrera and Angel Sanchez also figure to qualify.
Everyday players such as Matt Joyce, Drew Stubbs, Brennan Boesch, Jason Heyward, Austin Jackson and Chris Heisey will qualify after the season. Nolan Reimold, Kyle Blanks, Roger Bernadina, Travis Snider, Gerardo Parra, Jason Bourgeois, Chris Coghlan, Shelley Duncan and Julio Borbon won't necessarily play every day, but they are on track for eligibility nonetheless. Michael Saunders*, Michael Brantley*, Tyler Colvin*, Sam Fuld* and Jordan Schafer* could qualify, depending on the cutoff. If Giancarlo Stanton* qualifies, expect him to be among the best-paid first-time eligible players of the 2012-13 offseason.
Ian Kennedy, Tommy Hanson, Derek Holland, Jonathon Niese, Chris Narveson, Mat Latos, Brett Cecil, Bud Norris, Neftali Feliz, Doug Fister, Jhoulys Chacin, Philip Humber and Mike Leake have rotation spots at this point and project as first-time eligible players next offseason. Josh Outman, Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz have started in the past and will also qualify. Esmil Rogers* and a trio of young stars -- Madison Bumgarner*, Stephen Strasburg* and Daniel Hudson* -- could qualify depending on where the cutoff falls.
Right-handers Mitchell Boggs, David Hernandez, Bobby Parnell, Rich Thompson, Kevin Jepsen, Ryan Webb, John Axford, Cristhian Martinez and Jeff Samardzija should qualify along with left-handers Tony Sipp, Brian Duensing, Jerry Blevins, Antonio Bastardo, Jonny Venters, Marc Rzepczynski and Ross Detwiler. Don't rule out Drew Storen*, Mark Melancon*, Dan Runzler*, Andrew Cashner*, Alexi Ogando* and Henry Rodriguez*. They could also qualify, depending on the placement of the super two cutoff. Extension candidates Axford and Storen have impressive save totals and would be in line for substantial paydays even on one-year deals.
Cameron Maybin, Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata*, Wade Davis and Sergio Santos have signed extensions, though they don’t yet have enough service time to qualify for arbitration. This group would likely have been first-time eligible following the 2012 season.