10 notable MLB players who could be non-tendered
The 2020 crop of MLB free agents is about to expand its ranks after the non-tender deadline on Dec. 2.
Players eligible for arbitration can become free agents if their current teams don't tender them a contract by the deadline. Any team signing one of these players once they hit the open market inherits the remaining years of arbitration in the process.
Here are 10 notable players who could be non-tendered ahead of this year's deadline.
Mitch Haniger, Mariners
*Stats from 2019
Projected salary in arbitration: $3 million
The timing would seem a bit cruel since Haniger hasn't played since June 6, 2019, due to back and core injuries in addition to a ruptured testicle. General manager Jerry Dipoto has recently said Haniger would open the 2021 campaign as the Mariners' starting right fielder alongside Kyle Lewis and Jose Marmolejos, but their system's loaded with outfield prospects (Taylor Trammell, Braden Bishop, Julio Rodriguez, Jarred Kelenic) who could make the jump very soon. It might make more sense to give Haniger some playing time to rehab his value before ultimately dealing him at next summer's trade deadline, but stranger things have happened. Alternately, Seattle could pursue pitching upgrades with the modest amount saved from non-tendering Haniger.
Nomar Mazara, White Sox
Projected salary in arbitration: $5.6 million-$5.9 million
Mazara was pretty much a non-factor in his first - and possibly last - campaign with the White Sox. With George Springer and Marcell Ozuna available in free agency, Chicago could shed Mazara's salary and prioritize an upgrade in the outfield. The 25-year-old could not follow through on his power promise after hitting 79 home runs through four seasons with the Rangers and his lack of patience at the plate (.295 OBP in 2020) won't work in his favor.
Jon Gray, Rockies
Projected salary in arbitration: $5.6 million-$6.5 million
With Colorado looking to cut costs - both Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story have seen their names pop up in trade rumors - Gray could fall victim to a newfound austerity. The right-hander's tumultuous tenure with the Rockies has seen him bounce between the minors and the bigs despite generally solid peripheral numbers. However, it's difficult to overstate his struggles in 2020 as Gray watched his strikeout numbers crater (5.08 K/9) before a shoulder injury prematurely ended his season. It might be time for the Rockies and the former third overall pick to part ways and he could be found money for the team that takes him on.
Jorge Soler, Royals
Projected salary in arbitration: $7.4 million-$9.2 million
The Royals won't be contenders in 2021 and while Soler may have some trade value - especially if the National League retains the DH - the team could just elect to move on. The decision may seem absurd after he crushed 48 home runs in 2019, but his numbers across the board were well above his career norms that year. If Kansas City decides that season was the exception, it wouldn't be a shock to see Soler on the open market.
Matt Boyd, Tigers
Projected salary in arbitration: $5.5 million-$7.8 million
The Tigers were shopping Boyd midway through 2019 and probably should have sold high on him. The 29-year-old was 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA, 11.16 K/9, and 1.59 BB/9 through 14 starts. Since then, he's 7-15 with a 6.15 ERA over 30 starts (including 2020). Detroit's entering a youth movement centered around Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Matt Manning, and Spencer Turnbull with the likes of Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris (also a non-tender candidate) serving as depth options, so Boyd simply doesn't have a spot.
Kyle Schwarber, Cubs
Projected salary in arbitration: $7.01 million-$9.3 million
The Cubs are up against the wall in terms of payroll and intending to move some of their veteran names has long been the plan. If the team hasn't traded Schwarber by this point, it could indicate minimal outside interest in acquiring the slugger. Chicago stands to save if it chooses not to tender the 27-year-old a contract and could, in theory, afford to keep Kris Bryant or Javier Baez around. Of course, Schwarber could also just be the beginning of a more substantial tear down.
Travis Shaw, Blue Jays
Projected salary in arbitration: $4.2 million-$5.4 million
The Blue Jays have been a team to watch since the offseason began with the front office pledging to be aggressive in adding talent. The 40-man roster is full, so some changes are required to make a big splash. Shaw simply doesn't appear to be in Toronto's long-term plans, especially if they are successful in signing someone like DJ LeMahieu or acquiring a star infielder like Francisco Lindor via trade.
Corey Knebel, Brewers
Projected salary in arbitration: $5.125 million
Knebel may stick around, but Devin Williams' emergence as one of baseball's best relievers could render the long-time Brewers pitcher expendable in the eyes of management. However, if Knebel does hit the open market he will have plenty of suitors knocking on his door with so many clubs desperate for bullpen help. And although he was awful in 2020, it was such a small sample size that his numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt.
Adam Duvall, Braves
Projected salary in arbitration: $4.4 million-$7.1 million
The home runs were nice - particularly the 11 he mashed in September alone - but Duvall still only hit .237 with a .301 OBP. The 32-year-old's .233/.293/.468 career slash line over parts of seven seasons is enough evidence that the Braves can fill the void from within the organization or via free-agent upgrade.
Eddie Rosario, Twins
Projected salary in arbitration: $8.6 million-$12.9 million
Cutting Rosario loose seems like a long shot at first blush, but this makes a certain amount of sense if the Twins are looking to either slash payroll or earmark cash for Nelson Cruz or a starter. Minnesota has Max Kepler, Byron Buxton, and Alex Kirilloff set to patrol the outfield and Trevor Larnach should be ready by Opening Day or shortly after. While the Twins could pursue a trade, it seems unlikely Rosario would fetch a decent return - even though he's worth the $13 million he may earn in his final year of arbitration.