You’ll hear all sorts of things about the non-tender deadline today. Here’s what it is:
By midnight tonight teams have to decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. If they do, the team retains control over the player, the team and the player can negotiate salary for 2014 and, if they can’t come to an agreement over that (i.e. an agreement avoiding arbitration) they will proceed to submit proposed salaries to one another and have a salary arbitration early in the spring.
If the team non-tenders a player, that player immediately becomes a free agent. Basically, the calculus is whether or not the team thinks the guy is worth the low end of what he might receive in arbitration. Or, put differently, if the guy isn’t worth what he made in 2013, he’s probably going to be non-tendered. Not that there are a lot of those guys, as most arbitration-eligible players are young and have just recently made the minimum or something close to it.
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors compiled a list of possible non-tender candidates last month. Some of them have since either signed deals avoiding arbitration or are rumored to be in talks to do so. Some of the names are intriguing. Others less so. What you often see here are players with one tool — like a no-hit, good defense infielder or a power corner outfielder with holes in other parts of his game — who may or may not be worth a gamble.
We’ll update you with any notable non-tenders as the deadline approaches and passes.
Yesterday free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki held a workout in California and representatives from at least eleven teams were on hand, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo. Among the clubs present: the Giants — who were said to have a “heavy presence,” including team president Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy — the Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Pirates.
Your first reaction to that may be “Um, really? For Tulowitzki?” But a moment’s reflection makes it seem more sensible. We’re so tied up in thinking of a player through the filter of their contract and, when we’ve done that with Tulowitzki over the past several years, it has made him seem like an albatross given the $20 million+ a year he was earning to either not play or play rather poorly due to injuries.
It was just the contract that was the albatross, though, right? An almost free Tulowitzki — which he will be given that the Blue Jays are paying him $38 million over the next two seasons — is a different matter. If you sign him it’ll be for almost no real money and he stands a chance to be an average or maybe better-than-average shortstop, which is pretty darn valuable. You might even get one quirky late career return-to-near-glory season from him, in which case you’ve hit the lottery. If, however, as seems more likely, he just can’t get it done at all, you’re not out anything and you can cut him with little or no pain.
Eleven teams think he’s at least a look-see. I bet one of them will offer him a major league deal. Maybe more than one. He’ll probably have his pick of non-roster invites to spring training. I can’t see the downside to at least doing that much.