We are only a few days away from the next big deadline on MLB’s offseason calendar, with teams having until 8 PM ET on December 2 to decide whether or not they will tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. As a quick refresher on what exactly that means, it is essentially just deciding whether or not they will carry their arbitration-eligible players on the roster through the offseason. This does not mean the two sides have to agree to a deal — in the majority of cases, they will not — nor does it mean the players are guaranteed to make it to Opening Day. Arbitration deals are not guaranteed until Opening Day, so players can be cut in spring training without counting against the luxury tax. As things stand now, the Red Sox have nine players on the roster who are eligible for arbitration. Here’s how the tender decisions stand now. Note that the projected salaries come from MLB Trade Rumors.
Going to be tendered
Projected Salary: $3.0 million
Barnes has been a frustrating pitcher at times over the last few years, but as things stand right now he is one of the two best relievers in the bullpen projected to make a fairly negligible salary for his talent level. This is a no-brainer.
Projected Salary: $4.9 million
Benintendi has been a little disappointing to this point in his young major-league career, and this is his first run through arbitration. Even if he hasn’t performed quite up to expectations in two of his three seasons, though, he isn’t going to be non-tendered. This is a reasonable salary at his current production and a steal if he gets closer to his upside.
Projected Salary: $27.7 million
We know Betts may not be with the Red Sox next year, but it won’t be because he was non-tendered. This is a huge salary, but this is also the second best player in baseball in the middle of his prime. He’s worth this and more.
Projected Salary: $700,000
I would argue that there are some who have begun to overrate Hernández at this point in his career, but he’s easily worth this salary. The Red Sox need depth on the infield and particularly on the right side. Hernández is at least that, and there’s at least a chance he can be a decent starter even if I’d bet against it at this point.
Projected Salary: $9.5 million
After a breakout 2019, Rodriguez is set for a big raise for the 2020 season. Even if there’s some regression next year, there’s a long way to go for him not to be worth this kind of money. He’s also perhaps the top extension candidate on the roster right now.
Projected Salary: $3.4 million
If the season were to start tomorrow, Workman would be the closer just as he was to end 2019. There’s some regression coming on balls in play next year, but there’s also room to improve with control to counteract that.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Projected Salary: $11 million
The most interesting arbitration-eligible player for the Red Sox this year is Bradley. In his final year of team control before hitting free agency, he’s not set to make a negligible amount of money, though it’s also not a massive salary. There is a ton of disagreement on just how much to value a player like Bradley, with so much of said value coming from the glove. He’s at least an average regular, though, and for $11 million over one year that’s more than worth it. It’s a deal that should at least be able to be traded given the weak outfield market this year, so I would bet against a non-tender.
Projected Salary: $2.8 million
This is not a big salary and it’s one a team should be able to eat, but the question with León is more about whether or not he helps the team on the field. His defense and work with the pitchers is undeniable, but whether or not it makes up for being among the worst hitters in the league is a different discussion. As the deadline gets closer it’s more and more likely they do tender him a deal, but at this point they’d be better off looking for a new backup. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is non-tendered but immediately brought back on a cheaper deal.
Projected Salary: $1.6 million
Again, this is not a lot of money, but we are still talking about a precious roster spot. Teams need as many viable relievers as possible, but the question becomes whether or not they have in-house replacements who they think can provide what Hembree does. I would argue that they do and that it’s time to move on and use this roster spot either for a young pitcher with more upside or a more expensive, but more talented, replacement from outside the organization.