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?