Non-Tender Candidates Rumors

Non-Tender Candidates

More than 200 players are arbitration eligible and unsigned for 2015.  About 30 of those can be considered non-tender candidates.  Players who are not tendered contracts become free agents.  The deadline for teams to decide is December 2nd at 11pm central time.  Below is my subjective list of non-tender candidates.  Please note that not all of them will actually be non-tendered — many are simply bubble players who at least merit consideration for a non-tender and could also find themselves traded.  Click here for MLBTR’s projected salaries for these players, if they are tendered contracts.  Also, check out our handy non-tender tracker, which will chronicle Tuesday’s action and can be filtered by team.

Position Players

Yonder Alonso
John Baker
Gordon Beckham
Drew Butera
Everth Cabrera
Ike Davis
Alejandro De Aza
Daniel Descalso
A.J. Ellis
Chris Heisey
Travis Ishikawa
Mitch Moreland
Eduardo Nunez
Justin Smoak
Ruben Tejada
Danny Valencia
Dayan Viciedo
Eric Young Jr.

Pitchers

Jhoulys Chacin
Tim Collins
Brian Duensing
David Hernandez
David Huff
Wade LeBlanc
Kris Medlen
Alexi Ogando
Logan Ondrusek
Fernando Rodriguez
Esmil Rogers
Travis Wood


Interesting Non-Tender Considerations

I had collected some thoughts on this year’s non-tender candidate class last week for a potential podcast discussion, but we bumped it last week due to the Red Sox news (listen to that episode here).  Here is my collection of non-tender and arbitration-related musings.

Around 40 new players will become free agents at today’s non-tender deadline (11pm central time).  Keep an eye on MLBTR’s Non-Tender Tracker to see who gets cut loose.  Of those 40 or so non-tendered players, I would expect around 10 to sign Major League deals, based on recent history.  Last year at the top end, we saw two-year deals for Garrett Jones and Ryan Webb.  Infielder Gordon Beckham strikes me as a player who could score a two-year deal this year.

When we talk about non-tender candidates, we’re really talking about arbitration players on the bubble of being worth their projected salary to their current team.  Another team might value the player differently or have fewer payroll concerns, so all of these players are trade candidates leading up to tonight’s deadline and even beyond.  We’ve already seen Marco Estrada, Ike Davis, Justin Smoak, Cesar Ramos, and Hank Conger change teams.  Juan Francisco did so as well, but he’s in DFA limbo currently.  Players like Davis and Smoak could still be on the move as their current teams, the A’s and Blue Jays, are known to continually rearrange pieces.

A lot of this year’s arbitration bubble players were drafted in the first round in 2008.  Smoak, Davis, Aaron Crow (who didn’t sign that year), and Brett Lawrie have already changed teams (of course, Lawrie was never a non-tender candidate).  Beckham is perhaps the most notable non-tender candidate tonight, while other ’08 first-rounders such as Pedro Alvarez, Brian Matusz, Yonder Alonso, Jason Castro, Andrew Cashner, and Wade Miley could be trade candidates this winter.

Further thoughts on some of the arbitration eligible bubble players:

  • Does Beckham have a Daniel Murphy type season in him?  He always seemed to flash that potential with one or two good months in a season for the White Sox, and the two line up well in terms of career walk rate, strikeout rate and isolated power (an identical .130).  Murphy’s 23.5 percent line-drive rate is significantly better than Beckham’s 18.8 percent clip, but Beckham has hit liners at better than a 20 percent clip in two seasons.  The Blue Jays, Marlins, and Nationals could look at him, as could the Mets if they trade Murphy.  The Angels are also said to want him back in a utility role, even if they non-tender him.
  • Alejandro De Aza hit well in a brief stint with the Orioles, and was useful with the White Sox.  He’s a left-handed hitter who could be a good fit for a platoon.  The Orioles already lost Nelson Cruz and seem likely to lose Nick Markakis as well, increasing the chances De Aza stays put, even with a projected $5.9MM salary that the White Sox wanted no part of.  De Aza and Markakis are closer than you might think — check out this comparison of their last three seasons.
  • Another potential ex-White Sox player is Dayan Viciedo, who might be done in Chicago after a couple of replacement level seasons.  At a projected $4.4MM salary, he should find a trade suitor.  Just 26 in March, the right-handed-hitting Viciedo hit 25 home runs in 2012 and 21 this year and could be a fit for the Orioles, Royals, or Rangers.
  • After having Tommy John surgery in March, the Braves’ Kris Medlen might not be ready for an MLB mound until the 2015 All-Star break.  Medlen rejoined the Braves’ rotation at the 2012 trade deadline and was healthy through the 2013 season.  That was a 280-inning stretch where he ranked third in baseball with a 2.47 ERA.  The data on pitchers who had Tommy John surgery twice is inconclusive due to a small sample size, however.  As was noted this morning, the Braves are being creative to try to keep Medlen.
  • Alonso’s second half in 2012 was as good as, if not better than the second half of Brandon Belt or Anthony Rizzo.  He hasn’t been healthy since then.  He’s cheap enough that the Padres won’t cut him loose for nothing, but they have been considering replacements at first base and could move him if they find one.
  • A lot of these players had big 2012s, such as Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez.  Hernandez had Tommy John surgery in April and would be an interesting addition to any bullpen.
  • Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune outlined Everth Cabrera‘s delicate situation with the Padres in an article yesterday.  The bottom line is that Cabrera just turned 28 and was a regular at shortstop not long ago.  There will be teams willing to roll the dice on his off-field issues given the scarcity of shortstops around the game.  Will it be easier for new Padres GM A.J. Preller to move Alonso and Cabrera, since he didn’t acquire them?  Or will he be worried about them bouncing back with new teams?

Explaining Non-Tenders

Though we’ve already seen a good deal of bats come off the free agent market — including top free agents Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Nelson Cruz — a group of lower-profile names will be added back to the pool tonight. That’s because 11pm CT is the deadline for clubs to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players or to decide that such players aren’t worth the risk in arbitration. As Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith points out (Twitter link), 43 players were released on this day last year (though a great many of them were fringe Major Leaguers who made little impact). For those who aren’t familiar with the process, here’s a quick look at how it works.

In Major League Baseball, players become eligible for arbitration once they’ve accumulated three years of MLB service time (the top 22 percent of each year’s group of players with two to three years of service also qualify as “Super Two” players). Prior to arbitration, players have virtually no say in their earnings. They typically make the league minimum or perhaps maybe a few thousand more. (MLBTR’s Zach Links wrote a lengthy piece on how pre-arb salaries are determined earlier this year.) It is via arbitration that they can begin to earn more substantial salaries.

A player’s first trip through the arbitration process is usually fairly inexpensive (and the ones that are expensive are typically worth the price), but upon reaching arbitration for the second, third and fourth times, prices can begin to make teams uncomfortable. Teams will decide by tonight whether to tender contracts to those arb-eligible players (they’ll still have a couple months to agree to a specific salary) or cut them loose — a non-tender. By non-tendering a player, the team is allowing him to immediately become a free agent. It’s certainly not unheard of for a player to be non-tendered and re-sign with his former club at a lower, however. Daniel Hudson did this last season, and Jeff Karstens and Geovany Soto followed that path the previous year.

Players may also be non-tendered for injury concerns, and players that are not yet arbitration eligible but currently occupy a 40-man roster spot can be non-tendered as well.

While many non-tendered players are borderline Major Leaguers that don’t go on to have meaningful careers, there are others who provide large boosts to their new clubs. Last year’s group of non-tenders included Justin Turner — one of the offseason’s best signings — as well as Sam Fuld, Wesley Wright, Ronald Belisario and Jerome Williams. Each of those players spent significant time on a Major League roster in 2014. Garrett Jones and Ryan Webb, another pair of non-tenders, each received two-year deals after being cut loose last year.

Should a non-tendered player sign with a new team, that team secures control of his remaining arbitration seasons until free agency. For example, Turner has four-plus years of Major League service time after his excellent 2014, meaning he still needs two more years of service to qualify for free agency. The Dodgers will control him through the 2016 season. The same can be said of Fuld with the A’s.

The non-tender deadline also means that many players will avoid arbitration with their clubs today. We’re still quite a ways from the deadline to do so, but a few players have already avoided arb and a few more figure to see their 2015 contracts agreed upon and locked into place today.

Of course, we’ll be keeping track of all the non-tender action here at MLBTR today. I’ll be keeping track of non-tenders in a pair of posts (one for the American League, one for the National League), and you can follow along using MLBTR’s Non-Tender Tracker as well. We’ve also created a list of non-tender candidates featuring some names that could be on the bubble, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz has projected next year’s salary for each arb-eligible player. MLBTR writers have also taken an in-depth look at the cases of Alejandro De Aza (link), Gordon Beckham (link), Kris Medlen (link), Travis Wood (link), Mitch Moreland (link) and Ike Davis (link – post pre-dates his trade to Oakland).

One more thing to watch for today will be trades of some potential non-tender candidates. Last year’s non-tender deadline brought the trade of Chris Stewart to the Pirates, while in 2012 we saw the Tommy Hanson-for-Jordan Walden swap with the Braves and Angels.



Arbitration Notes: Ogando, Moreland, Russell, Parra, Descalso

Tomorrow night (11pm CT) is the deadline for teams to tender or non-tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. MLBTR has previously identified a list of non-tender candidates as well as provided projected salaries for each arbitration eligible player of the offseason (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz). In addition to those resources, you can follow along and keep track of players using our 2015 Non-Tender Tracker. We’ll cover some more of the specifics on non-tendering and arbitration tomorrow (though those who are new to the concept can check out last year’s post on explaining non-tenders), and already took a look at some notes earlier today.

Here’s the latest on the upcoming decisions:

  • Righty Alexi Ogando and first baseman Mitch Moreland are expected to be tendered contracts tomorrow, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Both players have some upside that Texas is surely loath to give up on, though each brings some uncertainty with their projected $2.6MM and $2.8MM arb costs (respectively).
  • As things stand, the Braves‘ only certain tenders are slated for Mike Minor and David Carpenter, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. The team is still unsure exactly how it will proceed with respect to rehabbing starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy as well as pen lefty James Russell. The southpaw, who was added at the trade deadline, projects to earn a fairly meager $2.4MM and seems a decent value at that price tag.
  • Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash indicated that the team intends to tender Gerardo Parra a contract rather than cutting him loose, according to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Parra’s hefty $6.4MM projection is quite a sum for a fourth outfielder, though Ash noted that he has received plenty of playing time as a part-time starter and frequent reserve. And, of course, a trade could still be made.
  • It seems likely that the Cardinals will non-tender utilityman Daniel Descalso, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch writes. Descalso carries a $1.4MM projected salary but saw a reduced role last year and the organization has added several apparent pieces that would seem to be viable replacements.

Non-Tender Candidate: Alejandro De Aza

Halfway through the 2014 season, longtime White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza looked like a probable non-tender after hitting .243/.309/.354 and getting eaten alive by left-handed pitching in a lackluster age-30 season in Chicago. De Aza made $4.25MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility, and there was little indication he would be worth a raise on that heading into 2015 and his likely decline phase.

USATSI_8067168_154513410_lowresA late-August trade to Baltimore and a well timed hot streak might have earned De Aza another season in the arbitration system, however. He hit .293/.341/.537 in 89 plate appearances with the Orioles, bringing hit 2014 total to a more respectable .252/.314/.386, then kept hitting in the postseason. De Aza is also a slightly above average defender in an outfield corner and can play center field, so he has defensive value to fall back on. MLBTR projects he’ll make $5.9MM through the arbitration process this offseason, and for the right team, he’s probably worth it.

The only question is whether the Orioles are the right team. The O’s are trying to re-sign a fellow left-handed outfielder in Nick Markakis, as well as DH/OF Nelson Cruz. They’ve also reportedly discussed Matt Kemp with the Dodgers, and they’re in on Torii Hunter and Melky Cabrera. How much worse De Aza is than someone like Markakis or Hunter could actually be debated, but any combination of Markakis, Cruz, Kemp, Hunter and Cabrera would make De Aza less useful to the Orioles.

On top of that, Baltimore faces a crunch of arbitration-eligible players, many of whom either are coming off very good seasons or have high salaries already. The Orioles’ 11 arbitration-eligibles (De Aza, Matt Wieters, Steve Pearce, Bud Norris, Tommy Hunter, Chris Davis, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Ryan Flaherty and Zach Britton) are projected to make a combined $56.9MM, and the Orioles could decide De Aza is a luxury they can do without, particularly if they splurge on, say, Markakis and Cruz, or at least feel it’s likely they’ll re-sign. They already have a lefty backup outfielder in David Lough who had a similar season to De Aza with the bat and will make near the league minimum in 2015, so heading into the season with De Aza on their roster only makes sense for the Orioles if they have a starting spot available for him.

The good news for De Aza (assuming he wants to be tendered — he might actually get slightly more than one year and $5.9MM on the open market) is that there’s little time before Tuesday night’s tender deadline for the Orioles to settle their outfield picture. If the O’s do strike out on Markakis, Cruz, Kemp or anyone else they might pursue, De Aza should have significant value for them. If they do tender him and then acquire more players who might make him superfluous, they would probably still be able to trade him, even though they wouldn’t be likely to get much back. The best guess here, then, is that the Orioles tender De Aza, and that’s reportedly the direction they’re leaning anyway. The Praver/Shapiro client probably ought to plan on heading into the season with Baltimore.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Non-Tender Candidate: Gordon Beckham

The Angels acquired infielder Gordon Beckham from the White Sox last August. Now the club has to decide if he will be tendered a contract. According to MLBTR’s Matt Swartz, he’s projected to earn $5MM in his final spin through arbitration. Coming off arguably the worst season of his career, the expense might outweigh the benefits.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles AngelsAny discussion of Beckham inevitably digresses to 2009, when the then 22-year-old posted 2.5 WAR in two-thirds of a season. In parts of five seasons since his breakout, he’s managed just 2.8 total WAR over 2,528 plate appearances. Last year, he struggled to a .226/.271/.348 line and -0.2 WAR, although he was much better with the Angels (.286/.328/.429) during a brief 61 plate appearance audition.

Beckham, now 28, is best viewed as a utility fielder. While the Angels did use him a few times at shortstop, he’s most successful at second and third base. He’s maintained strong contact rates throughout his career, but he’s never managed to produce much power after his rookie season. It’s worth noting that Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field – where Beckham spent most of his career – is among the best offensive environments in baseball. In other words, the move to Los Angeles shouldn’t help his power.

Beckham’s performance in 2014 makes a trade unlikely. His $5MM projected salary is only affordable to a large market club in desperate need of middle infield depth. Incidentally, the Angels are perhaps the only team to fit that description. Howie Kendrick and David Freese have an intimate familiarity with the disabled list, which makes a player like Beckham a useful handcuff.

His presence on the roster, along with that of Grant Green, may give the Angels more confidence shopping Kendrick and Freese, both of whom have appeared in trade rumors. They’re free agents after 2015. Confidence should not be confused with reliance. While it’s possible Los Angeles could enter the season with Beckham, it’s unlikely they would plan to use him as a starter. The club is poised to contend in 2015, and Beckham’s bat would present a considerable hole in the lineup. If Kendrick or Freese are dealt, I expect the club to target infielders like Asdrubal Cabrera, Stephen Drew, or Jed Lowrie.

Other infielders who offer similar versatility include Emilio Bonifacio, Kelly Johnson, Ed Lucas, and Alberto Callaspo. Since they should all cost less than Beckham’s $5MM projection, the most likely outcome appears to be a non-tender situation. The going rate for 0.0 to 1.0 WAR middle infielders appears to be between $500K and $3MM. The Angels do need a player like Beckham, so he could be re-signed at a lesser rate. His relative youth assures that some club will hand him a bench role.


Non-Tender Candidate: Kris Medlen

This year, teams have until 11:59 ET on December 2 to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. About 40 players are non-tender candidates, per MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes. Included on the list is injured Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen.

Medlen, 29, earned $5.8MM through arbitration last season. He’s likely to earn a similar amount next season and no less than $4.64MM after missing the entire 2014 season due to his second Tommy John surgery. Based only on his statistics – a career 2.95 ERA, 7.62 K/9, and 2.15 BB/9 in 512 2/3 innings – he appears to be bargain. He’s been flexible about his role, with 61 starts and 89 relief appearances to his name. Return from major injury always comes with risk, especially for players who have undergone multiple Tommy John procedures. With only one more season of club control, the budget-conscious Braves may opt to cut ties with Medlen.

MLB: NLDS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Atlanta Braves Jon Roegele and Jeff Zimmerman of the Hardball Times recently researched Tommy John surgeries in separate articles. Pitchers usually see an increase in their walk rate, decrease in strikeouts, and allow more runs in their first year back from the injury. Zimmerman cites the American Journal of Sports Medicine as saying, “83% of the pitchers they looked at made it back to the majors after surgery and 97% were at least able to pitch in a minor-league game after the surgery.” Roegele found that 28-to-29-year-old pitchers (sample size 73) took an average of 16.9 months to return from the surgery. Only 71% of pitchers in the cohort returned to big league action. Roegele does note some sample size issues, but it’s safe to say Medlen is bordering on the danger zone where age begins to correlate with poorer outcomes.

The average recovery time is skewed by players who suffer extended setbacks – like Diamondbacks pitcher Daniel Hudson. Even so, there is a plausible chance Medlen won’t be ready to compete until next July – 16 months from his surgery on March 18. An efficent recovery of 13 months still has him missing the early part of the season. A more financially endowed club may feel inclined to hope for the best outcome, but the Braves may have to be more pragmatic with a possible $5.8MM investment.

Reportedly, Atlanta’s preferred option is to re-sign Medlen at a lower rate, possibly with performance bonuses. Last offseason, the club inked Gavin Floyd to a one-year, $4MM deal with $4.5MM in possible bonuses. Floyd was also coming off Tommy John surgery and was expected to miss the beginning of the season. He made his Braves debut in May, but landed back on the disabled list in June after fracturing a bone near his elbow.

The experience with Floyd may serve as both a benchmark for expected contract and a cautionary tale. Floyd has a career 4.40 ERA and 4.36 FIP, so his performance has been substantially worse than Medlen’s. However, Floyd was relatively durable prior to his injury, whereas Medlen has a history of problems. Another relevant anecdote is that of Andrew Miller. The Red Sox non-tendered and re-signed him prior to last season. Atlanta may wish to try the same tactic, although it will be a risky move if their goal is to retain him.

On the open market, I foresee a one-year, $5MM guarantee with performance bonuses. Mutual options are not uncommon with injured or injury prone players. With a mid-season return uncertain, a club option could prove attractive to teams hoping to get more than a couple months of production.

The injury complicates any potential trades. Obviously, the Braves cannot expect a substantial return – Medlen wouldn’t be a non-tender candidate if they could. Trades involving injured players are rare, so Braves fans shouldn’t expect a notable prospect in return if a deal is reached.

Medlen, who is represented by Wasserman Media Group, seemingly fits with any club in need of rotation depth and upside. Since that describes the Braves, they could be motivated to bite the bullet and tender a contract. While half of the teams in the league could serve as possible landing spots, a few suitable playoff contenders include the Angels and Dodgers. Both clubs could use rotation depth with the flexibility to work out of the bullpen.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Non-Tender Candidate: Travis Wood

In 2013, Travis Wood was a bright spot on a miserable Cubs team, posting a 3.11 ERA over 200 innings. That led to a $3.9MM payout in his first year of arbitration eligibility in 2014. A year later, he’s coming off a 5.03 ERA season, and he could be a non-tender candidate. So what changed?

USATSI_8048115_154513410_lowresActually, not much. Or, at least, not much Wood could have controlled. In 2013, Wood’s xFIP was 4.50. In 2014, it was 4.51. By far the most important cause of his two-run jump in ERA was a 72-point increase in his batting average on balls in play, from .248 to .320. Wood walked batters at a significantly higher rate (4.0 BB/9 vs. 3.0) in 2014, but he struck out more of them, too, and slightly increased his ground ball percentage, although he remained a fly ball pitcher. His command was worse, but not so much so that it represented a fundamental change. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two seasons was Wood’s cut fastball, which was lost a mile an hour in velocity and was far less effective in 2014. In general, though, the best way to explain the difference between the two seasons is that Wood wasn’t nearly as good as his 2013 ERA, nor as bad as his ERA last year.

Wood’s team has changed as well. Even if Wood hadn’t had a strong-looking 2013 season, he would have had utility on the 2014 Cubs, which looked poised to unload veteran starters like Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and (if he had pitched well) Edwin Jackson. Having an innings eater like Wood makes sense when facing that kind of upheaval, and if Wood had somehow repeated his 2013 performance, he would have had trade value himself.

2015 is different. Jake Arrieta emerged during the 2014 season as a top young starter, and Kyle Hendricks and Tsuyoshi Wada had unexpectedly strong seasons as well. The Cubs are likely to continue to give chances to Jacob Turner, and Jackson is also still under contract. There’s also Eric Jokisch, Felix Doubront and Dan Straily as potential rotation candidates. And then, of course, the Cubs are expected to be major players for free agent pitching and could perhaps add two hurlers this offseason. Despite the wide variance in Wood’s ERAs, he’s essentially a back-end lefty who can soak up innings. That makes him useful, but perhaps not for the 2015 Cubs, who will have plenty of options who are either better or who have more upside.

Then, of course, there’s Wood’s salary. The Frontline client’s strong 2013 numbers set a relatively high baseline for his salaries during his arbitration years, and he’s projected to make $5.5MM in 2015. Many teams would likely see $5.5MM as more than Wood is worth, so it’s doubtful he has much trade value. Teams like the Braves, Diamondbacks, Phillies, Rangers, Twins or White Sox could have interest in Wood, but perhaps not so much that they’re willing to give up $5.5MM and trade talent to get him, particularly not so early in the offseason.

One factor working against Wood is that the free agent market for pitching is rather strong, particularly in comparison with the rest of the market. The non-tender deadline is December 2, and plenty of higher-upside arms will surely remain on the free agent market then. The most likely outcome, therefore, might be that the Cubs non-tender Wood, and he signs elsewhere later in the offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Non-Tender Candidates: Ike Davis & Gaby Sanchez

Teams have until December 2 at 11:59pm ET to decide which of their arbitration-eligible players they’ll tender contracts. By MLBTR’s reckoning, about 40 of those players are non-tender candidates, including two first basemen, Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez, who platooned at the position for the Pirates in 2014.

USATSI_7961599_154513410_lowresDavis is projected to make $4.4MM in 2015 after earning $3.5MM last season. Sanchez, meanwhile, is projected to make $2.7MM, a raise from $2.3MM. Those costs wouldn’t be exorbitant for any team, even the low-payroll Pirates, but after another somewhat disappointing season from Davis and an off year for Sanchez, it’s worth asking whether the Pirates’ money might best be spent elsewhere.

Perhaps just as important for Davis is the fact that Pedro Alvarez now appears to be a first baseman. The former No. 2 overall pick struggled with throws from third base in 2014, while utilityman Josh Harrison had an unexpectedly outstanding season and staked a claim on a starting job, which will likely end up being at third. GM Neal Huntington has said that Alvarez will likely get the bulk of the playing time at first base, and he called keeping Davis “probably a challenge.” Alvarez and Davis both bat left-handed, so they can’t share a position. Davis has been working out in the outfield this offseason, but there’s probably no space on the Pirates’ roster there, either, since the Pirates already have a top young lefty outfielder in Gregory Polanco and another reasonably strong one in Travis Snider.

It’s still possible that the Pirates could trade Davis, who could theoretically have a bit of value for a team in need of a lefty first base option. But Davis will be more expensive through arbitration than he was in 2014, when he had a .233/.343/.378 season that qualified as a modest disappointment. The trade that brought Davis to Pittsburgh early in the 2014 season didn’t cost the Pirates much (a minor league reliever in Zack Thornton and a young pitching prospect in Blake Taylor), and it’s unlikely the Bucs could get more than that if they traded Davis now. It’s also obvious that, unless they trade Alvarez, the Pirates don’t have space for Davis on their roster. So there’s little incentive for interested teams to do anything but wait until the deadline for the Pirates to cut him loose.

Sanchez is right-handed and has had a reputation as a strong hitter against lefties, so Alvarez’s move to first base doesn’t impact Sanchez the way it impacts Davis. Given Sanchez’s declining performance, however, the Pirates could decide to allocate resources elsewhere. Sanchez hit .229/.293/.385 last season. He was better against lefties, at .256/.318/.429, but perhaps not so well as to justify the expense and the roster spot, especially given that the NL Central is thin on left-handed pitching. Sanchez is a career .291/.382/.481 hitter against southpaws, but at 31, his 2014 performance might be closer to his expected level going forward.

Like Davis, Sanchez has little or no trade value. So the Pirates’ best option might be to non-tender him and save money to spend elsewhere. The Bucs could then look for a cheaper Triple-A slugger to platoon with Alvarez (who, like Davis, can certainly use a good platoon partner). They could also employ some more creative arrangement like having Tony Sanchez, who dabbled as a first baseman late last season at Triple-A Indianapolis, break camp as a righty first base option and third catcher. They could also attempt to bring Gaby Sanchez back for less than $2.7MM.

Davis, who is represented by Octagon, should still be able to land a big-league deal somewhere — his 10 homers last season weren’t anything to write home about, but .343 on-base percentages don’t grow on trees, and Davis is still just 27 (28 in March). The Marlins already have a lefty first baseman in Garrett Jones, but they reportedly like Davis and could have interest if he becomes a free agent. The Padres could also be a possibility, although it’s questionable whether they’ll see Davis as an upgrade over incumbent lefty first baseman Yonder Alonso.

Sanchez, who is represented by Beverly Hills Sports Council, would be a good fit (on a cheap Major League deal or minor league deal with an out clause) for a team looking for a partner for their lefty first baseman. St. Louis, where Matt Adams has a career .197/.227/.326 line against lefties, could be one possibility. A reunion with the Marlins, and with either Davis or Jones (who platooned with Sanchez in Pittsburgh in 2013) could make sense also.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Tender Deadline Notes: Barton, Stewart, Nix, Kelly

Tomorrow at 10:59pm CT marks the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. Most arbitration-eligible players will be tendered, since players typically receive less in the arbitration system than they would be able to get in free agency. But a few dozen will likely be non-tendered, expanding the free-agent pool.

Clearly, that pool won't include any current stars. But it's likely a couple non-tenders will be contributors in 2014. Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca tweets a reminder that last year's crop of non-tenders included outfielder Nate Schierholtz, who ended up having a solid season with the Cubs, and reliever Brian Wilson. The list also included infielder Mark Reynolds, who landed a $6MM contract with the Indians, and Manny Parra, who posted a solid season out of the Reds' bullpen.

MLBTR will be updated with non-tender information throughout the day tomorrow. For more, you can check out MLBTR's list of non-tender candidates, as well as our arbitration tracker and list of tenders and non-tenders. The latter two resources will be updated as news rolls in. In the meantime, here are a couple notes on what to expect tomorrow.

  • One player who could be non-tendered is Daric Barton, who is the Athletics' longest-tenured player, as MLB.com's Jane Lee points out. Barton arrived in Oakland's 2004 trade of Mark Mulder. He never really became the high-OBP first baseman the A's were likely hoping he'd be, with only one strong full-time season (2010) to his credit, but the A's did get Dan Haren in that trade, so it turned out well for them anyway. Barton hit .269/.350/.375 in limited duty with the A's in 2013, spending most of the season at Triple-A Sacramento.
  • The Yankees could non-tender catcher Chris Stewart and infielder Jayson Nix, writes MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. The Yanks' signings of Brian McCann and Brendan Ryan don't bode well for Stewart or Nix, particularly given that GM Brian Cashman has said he will tender catcher Francisco Cervelli.
  • The Tigers' only non-tender candidate is utilityman Don Kelly, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck. Working in Kelly's favor are his low salary (MLBTR's projects he'll make $900K) and the fact that, even if they tender him a contract, the Tigers would be able to release him in spring training and pay only a fraction of his deal. It's currently unclear where Kelly will fit on the Tigers' roster next year. Kelly hit .222/.309/.343 in part-time duty for the Tigers last season.