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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.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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