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.

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.