If you’re following baseball news online for the next several hours 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.
Teams have until 8PM tonight, to decide whether or not 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 2020. 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. Or they’ll scrap it all and agree to a long-term deal.
For today’s purposes, however, 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 2019, he’s probably going to be non-tendered by 8PM tonight. Or, possibly, the player will be traded just before the tender deadline so the decision belongs to another team.
There are over 200 arbitration-eligible players. Over at MLB.com Mark Feinsand has a rundown of who he thinks are the most notable non-tender candidates on each team. MLB Trade Rumors has a list of non-tender possibilities as well. Among those sticking out: Braves reliever Shane Greene and Cubs infielder Addison Russell, but there will no doubt be some surprises.