Evan Gattis

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Wait, what is the non-tender deadline again?

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For the next 30 hours or so you’ll hear a lot about the non-tender deadline and/or players being tendered or not tendered a contract. Here, in case you’re unaware, is what that means.

By 8 p.m. ET on Friday, teams have to decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. If they do, the team retains control over the player. If they “non-tender” the player, the player immediately becomes a free agent.

Now, to be clear, the team is not actually presenting players with actual contracts specifying what the’ll be paid. Think of it as more of a token gesture. A placeholder contract. Once the player is “tendered” the team and the player can negotiate salary for 2018. If they can’t come to an agreement over that, usually referred to as an agreement “avoiding arbitration,” they will proceed to submit proposed salaries to one another and have a salary arbitration hearing early in the spring.

Basically, the calculus is whether or not the team thinks the player in question is worth the low end of what he might receive in the legal proceeding that is salary arbitration, which usually amounts to a raise over the previous year’s salary. Which is to say that, if the guy isn’t worth what he made in 2017, he’s probably going to be non-tendered tomorrow. Often times these players are traded just before the tender deadline so the decision belongs to another team, like how we saw with Brad Boxberger this morning.

We’ve already talked about a couple of players for whom the tender/non-tender calculation is up in the air, such as Matt Adams of the Braves and Mike Fiers of the Astros. Others who may be on the tender/non-tender bubble include Yasmani Grandal of the Dodgers, Evan Gattis of the Astros, Adeiny Hechavarria of the Rays, Hector Rondon of the Cubs, Drew Smyly of the Mariners and Steven Vogt of the Brewers.

We’ll write about some of the more notable tender/non-tender decisions. A good comprehensive source for these decisions is MLB Trade Rumors, which has a full list of potential non-tender candidates here and usually puts up a non-tender tracker on deadline day.