The big day on the calendar that most baseball fans have circled for this week is Wednesday night when the CBA officially ends and the owners put on a transaction freeze in the form of a lockout. But before we get to that point, there is one more deadline on this offseason schedule for teams to set their rosters before the freeze. That would be the non-tender deadline, the day on which teams have to decide whether or not they will tender deals to their arbitration-eligible players. Note that agreements do not need to be struck at this point, but teams will decide whether they will tender a contract to eventually agree on an arbitration salary for 2022 or whether they will non-tender the player and send them to free agency. The deadline for teams is at 8:00 PM ET on Tuesday.
In a lot of years, this is one of the biggest days on the calendar. It still will be for a lot of teams, whether it is due to big anticipated raises that teams want to get off their payroll or players who are due for bigger raises than teams feel the player is worth. But for the Boston Red Sox this year, that’s simply not the case. Boston has nine arbitration-eligible players, and for the most part it seems like a simple decision to tender all of them contracts. Below are the nine players as well as their 2021 salary and their 2022 arbitration salary as projected by MLB Trade Rumors.
- Kevin Plawecki: $1.6M/$2.0MM
- Hunter Renfroe: $3.1M/$7.6MM
- Ryan Brasier: $1.25M/$1.4MM
- Rafael Devers: $4.575/$11.1MM
- Nick Pivetta: pre-arb/$3.2MM
- Alex Verdugo: pre-arb/$3.2MM
- Christian Arroyo: pre-arb/$1.1MM
- Josh Taylor: pre-arb/$1.1MM
- Tim Locastro: pre-arb/$700K
To me, there are only four players for whom there is even any question about any kind of decision that will have to be made on Tuesday, and even they are stretching it. But for Devers, Pivetta, Verdugo Arroyo, and Taylor it is a no-brainer. Most of us certainly hope to see an extension at some point for Devers, and perhaps Verdugo as well, but that doesn’t need to happen on Tuesday. They can tender them a deal for just 2022 and still negotiate something long-term. For everyone else, the going year-to-year at this point is more than fine, and the projected salaries here are entirely reasonable.
That just leaves Plawecki, Renfroe, Brasier, and Locastro. Let’s start with Plawecki, Brasier, and Locastro whose cases are similar. None of them are obvious non-tender candidates, and in fact are much more likely to be tendered a deal than not. Their projected salaries are small enough that they will not impact any sort of offseason plan. The only reason the Red Sox may consider non-tenders is because they think they can find a better use of that 40-man spot. Ultimately, though, they should have enough flexibility on the roster to not have to cut solid, if unspectacular, players. If they decide they need that roster spot later in the winter, they can open it up without much financial hurt.
That just leaves Renfroe, who is a slightly more interesting case though ultimately is also more likely to be tendered a deal than not. I still believe he could be a trade candidate this winter, and still believe it, but that doesn’t have to be rushed to happen on Tuesday. And while I don’t think he’s a bargain by any means at the projected price tag, he’s good enough to justify it. I’d be surprised if he were to get less on the open market.
So at the end of the day, this just doesn’t seem to be a deadline for the Red Sox that is going to cause much in terms of suspense. Barring a trade of some sort (Verdugo could also be a trade candidate, though for a higher price than Renfroe), all nine of the arbitration-eligible players should be tendered deals. The real fun should start after the deadline, and in this winter’s case after the lockout.