With yet another offseason deadline upon us, here are three things we’ll be watching around baseball today:
1. The Non-Tender Deadline Is Today
This offseason’s non-tender deadline is tonight at 7:00pm CT. Typically, the focus of the n0n-tender deadline is arbitration level players, though it’s not unheard of for pre-arbitration players to be non-tendered as well. Matt Swartz’s arbitration projections provide a comprehensive list of arbitration-eligible players across MLB and their projected 2023 salaries. Some teams have taken steps to address roster concerns ahead of the non-tender deadline, such as the Rays preemptively trading Ji-Man Choi to the Pirates. In some cases, a club and its player will come to an agreement prior to the non-tender deadline, as several already did yesterday (e.g. Cardinals and Chris Stratton). There’s plenty of teams with lots of decisions left to make as the deadline approaches, however, including the Brewers, who have a massive arbitration class of 18 players.
2. What Will The Dodgers Do With Bellinger?
Perhaps the most significant decision any team faces due to today’s deadline is that of the Dodgers on former MVP Cody Bellinger. Just a few years ago, he was widely considered one of the sport’s brightest stars, but back-to-back disastrous seasons at the plate, combined with Bellinger’s projected $18.1MM salary for 2023, could give the Dodgers pause about retaining him for next season. Bellinger still has value as a plus baserunner and excellent glove in the field, but his .193/.256/.355 slash line since the start of the 2021 season inspires little confidence in his bat going forward. As one of the game’s financial powerhouses, the Dodgers could conceivably be more comfortable taking a risk of this nature than most teams; a one-year, $18.1MM contract would not be quite as painful for them as it would be for others should Bellinger struggle again in 2023. If the Dodgers ultimately do non-tender Bellinger, his free agency will be a fascinating one to follow, as he would join a thin center field market behind top option Brandon Nimmo.
3. Lewis Trade Furthers Outfield Logjam In Arizona
Yesterday’s Opener discussed how Seattle’s recent trade for Teoscar Hernandez added to a logjam in their outfield and suggested they may look to trade from that newfound depth in the coming days. That came to pass rather quickly as the Mariners dealt 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis to the Diamondbacks yesterday in exchange for Cooper Hummel. Lewis has struggled following his breakout 2020 campaign due to a number of significant injuries, but the acquisition of a player of his talents could certainly address Arizona’s desire for additional right-handed power in 2023. While Lewis does check a box on GM Mike Hazen’s offseason shopping list, the trade also adds to Arizona’s own outfield logjam. Corbin Carroll and Daulton Varsho are likely set in center and right field, leaving Jake McCarthy, former top prospect Alek Thomas, Dominic Fletcher and Lewis (who could also spend ample time at DH) to vie for reps. Furthermore, if Lewis indeed occupies the DH slot for a significant portion of his playing time, perhaps no player is as impacted by Arizona’s newest acquisition than Seth Beer, who struggled in limited playing time in 2022 and could see his further opportunities limited further going forward. Carroll and Varsho are overwhelmingly unlikely to move, but the D-backs should still receive interest in the remainder of their outfield/DH options. MLBTR’s Steve Adams took a deeper look at Arizona’s outfield logjam back in September.