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One non-tender candidate from every team

December 2, 2020

MLB's non-tender deadline for 2020 is at 8 p.m. ET today. By that time, every team has to decide whether to offer the players on its 40-man roster with fewer than six years of service time a contract for 2021. If a team chooses to "non-tender" a player -- as

MLB's non-tender deadline for 2020 is at 8 p.m. ET today. By that time, every team has to decide whether to offer the players on its 40-man roster with fewer than six years of service time a contract for 2021.

If a team chooses to "non-tender" a player -- as in, not give him a contract for next season -- that player immediately becomes a free agent. Players might be non-tendered for a number of reasons, like if their club thinks the raise they'll get in arbitration would exceed their on-field value, or if it wants to clear a space on the 40-man roster.

Here's one 2020 non-tender candidate for all 30 teams.

American League East

Blue Jays: Travis Shaw, 3B
The Jays bet on Shaw bouncing back from an ugly 2019 season and, to an extent, he did. But this is still a position that the Blue Jays need more offensive production from, after Shaw hit .239 with six home runs and a .717 OPS over 50 games in '20. While the idea of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on a part-time basis can’t be counted on as a lock, the Blue Jays do have the versatile Cavan Biggio, along with several options on the free-agent and trade markets. Third base doesn’t need to be met with a long-term solution, either, as No. 2 prospect Austin Martin and No. 3 prospect Jordan Groshans are both ready to blaze through the Minor Leagues when play resumes, and both have the ability to play the corner.

-- Keegan Matheson

Orioles: Pat Valaika, UTIL
The Orioles cut ties with their most obvious non-tender candidate, Renato Núñez, designating him for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster before the deadline to protect prospects from the Rule 5 Draft. Núñez would have been due a significant raise as an arbitration-eligible player for the first time. Valaika is in the same position after enjoying a career year in 2020, hitting .277 with eight homers and a 114 OPS+ in 52 games while filling a super-utility role. But are the rebuilding Orioles, who played with MLB’s lowest payroll last season, willing to pay roughly $2 million for a bench player? It’s a fair question, especially with lots of versatility elsewhere on the roster and Richie Martin returning as their primary backup at shortstop. Baltimore also has other interesting decisions to make on middle reliever Shawn Armstrong and backstop Pedro Severino.

-- Joe Trezza

Rays: Ji-Man Choi, 1B
The Rays’ most likely non-tender candidate was Hunter Renfroe, but Tampa Bay got out in front of it and designated the outfielder for assignment last week. With Renfroe now off the books, the Rays have some interesting decisions with Choi, Ryan Yarbrough and Yandy Díaz. It would be surprising if the Rays non-tender any of their arbitration-eligible players, but Choi would be the most likely candidate if they decide to go that route. But again, that’s not expected.

-- Juan Toribio

Red Sox: Ryan Brasier, RHP
Brasier was an overnight sensation and a stud on the 2018 World Series champion Red Sox, a former Minor League free agent who pitched to a 1.60 ERA in the regular season and a 1.04 ERA in the postseason during their title run. But he’s been spotty the last few years, regressing to a 4.57 ERA over 87 appearances while his walk rate skyrocketed. Now Brasier, 33, is arbitration-eligible for the first time and projected to receive a $1.6 million raise, according to MLB Trade Rumors. The Red Sox had one of baseball’s worst bullpens in '20 and have already taken steps to reshape it, parting ways with fellow arbitration-eligible relievers Ryan Weber and Austin Brice. They could choose to do the same with Brasier.

-- Ian Browne

Yankees: Gary Sánchez, C
The Yankees appear to be leaning toward tendering Sánchez a 2021 contract, likely valued in the neighborhood of $6.5 million. The fact that it's a legitimate question serves as an indication of how far the two-time All-Star’s stock has dropped. Sánchez endured an immensely frustrating ’20 season, posting a ghastly .147/.253/.365 slash line with 10 homers and 24 RBIs while struggling with a new catching stance. There were flashes of Sánchez’s 2016-17 promise, but too infrequently to be relied upon, and backup Kyle Higashioka started five of the club’s seven postseason games behind the plate. General manager Brian Cashman has said that it is fair to wonder whether Sánchez will be the starting catcher to begin '21.

-- Bryan Hoch

AL Central

Indians: Delino DeShields, OF
The Indians have two outfielders who could fall into this category: DeShields and Tyler Naquin. The Tribe has had an abundance of outfielders but has struggled to find a successful trio over the last few seasons. With prospects like Daniel Johnson (No. 16) and Nolan Jones (No. 1) expected to see time in the grass in 2021, the Indians might opt to non-tender DeShields and/or Naquin, since they have controllable, more inexpensive options to turn to. Even though Oscar Mercado’s struggles in '20 led to more playing time for DeShields, the team is still optimistic that Mercado’s rookie success in '19 was not a fluke. It wouldn’t be surprising if Mercado took back his starting center-field role, which could leave too many cooks in the kitchen if both DeShields and Naquin were on the active roster next season.

-- Mandy Bell

Royals: Maikel Franco, 3B
This simply would be a cost-cutting measure for a small-market team needing to create some financial wiggle room. Franco was one of the best and most cost-efficient signings last offseason -- one year for $2.95 million, as the Royals hoped he would rebound from a disappointing end to his tenure with the Phillies. Franco exceeded expectations, leading the team with 16 doubles and 38 RBIs, while also being a respected and well-liked presence in the clubhouse. Before he was hampered by a leg injury, Franco also was reliable defensively. But Franco is arbitration-eligible, and he could more than double his salary in that process. The Royals have Kelvin Gutierrez waiting in the wings, but there is also a sense Kansas City would be open to bringing back Franco at a more reasonable, club-friendly deal, something that might appeal to Franco considering the uncertainty of the free-agent market this winter.

-- Jeffrey Flanagan

Tigers: Joe Jiménez, RHP
The Tigers face an interesting decision with Jiménez, who's eligible for arbitration for the first time as he nears his 26th birthday. He has an All-Star selection, 17 saves and 199 strikeouts in 164 innings over parts of four seasons, but he lost the closer's role midseason this year and spent September trying to find his All-Star form from 2018. The average velocity on his four-seam fastball has fallen each of the last two seasons, down to 94.2 mph this year, while the damage off the fastball has risen. Both found improvement in September. Jiménez is young enough that, with three more seasons before free agency, he should be able to find better times, and new pitching coach Chris Fetter could be the one to get him there. But if Bryan Garcia is the long-term answer at closer, the Tigers have to find a role for Jiménez, who has been a short reliever for the vast majority of his pro career.

-- Jason Beck

Twins: Eddie Rosario, OF
The shouts of “Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!” that ring down from the Target Field bleachers after a particularly big throw from Rosario’s right arm or when he steps to the plate in a tight situation are an indication of his fan-favorite status after six seasons manning left field for the Twins. Though he’s been one of the club's most reliable home run hitters during that time (an average of just under 20 per season), his free-swinging tendencies and on-base struggles have led to OPS+ marks of 107 and 115 -- slightly above average -- in the past two seasons. That’s solid but not exemplary production in the heart of the lineup, making it difficult to justify the raise he’ll likely get from his $7.75 million price tag in 2020, especially considering that the team's No. 2 (Alex Kirilloff), No. 3 (Trevor Larnach) and No. 12 (Brent Rooker) prospects all play corner outfield and are just about MLB-ready.

-- Do-Hyoung Park

White Sox: Carlos Rodón, LHP
Rodón, the third overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, has amassed 525 strikeouts over 536 2/3 career innings. But the southpaw, who turns 28 on Dec. 10, also has thrown a total of 42 1/3 innings over the past two seasons due to injuries, and he was used as a reliever down the stretch in 2020. The White Sox figure to add one veteran starter, if not two, during this offseason, so the rotation competition will be intense. The team may decide that Rodón, who earned a base of $4.45 million in '20, is not worth the expenditure if he's unlikely to return to the rotation. Right-hander Reynaldo López and right fielder Nomar Mazara also present interesting tender decisions for the team.

-- Scott Merkin

AL West

Angels: Hansel Robles, RHP
Robles was solid as the Angels’ primary closer in 2019, posting a 2.48 ERA with 23 saves in 72 appearances overall, but he struggled in '20. Robles saw a decline in his velocity and recorded a 10.26 ERA in 18 appearances, losing his job as closer early in the season. Robles was due to earn $3.85 million in a full 2020 season, and the Angels are highly unlikely to tender him a contract, which would put him in line for a slight raise in 2021. At that cost, the Angels believe they can find more reliable relief help elsewhere, as improving the bullpen remains a top priority.

-- Rhett Bollinger

Astros: Aledmys Díaz, INF/OF
The Astros have already cut ties with the players who were considered non-tender candidates by putting relievers Roberto Osuna, Chris Devenski and Chase De Jong and catcher Dustin Garneau on waivers Oct. 30. That leaves them with three arbitration-eligible players -- shortstop Carlos Correa, starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. and the utility infielder/outfielder Díaz. Of course, Correa and McCullers are core players who will be tendered contracts and Díaz is likely to get a tender as well, because his salary is still reasonable ($2.6 million in 2020 before proration). Pitchers Kent Emanuel and Francis Martes, both of whom are serving PED suspensions, are on the restricted list and won’t count toward a roster spot until next season starts.

-- Brian McTaggart

Athletics: Tony Kemp, 2B
To be fair, the A’s are likely to bring back all 10 of their arbitration-eligible players, Kemp included. He just might be the only real possibility to be non-tendered. His salary won’t be too expensive, as Kemp is expected to receive a salary just north of $1 million, though the A’s could decide to go in a different direction at second base after Tommy La Stella, who is currently a free agent, relegated Kemp to a bench role midway through the 2020 season. But Kemp immediately became a popular figure both in the A’s clubhouse and community of Oakland in his first season with the club, and his low salary combined with an ability to play multiple positions should keep him around. Oakland’s other arbitration-eligible players seem like no-brainers to bring back, with a list that includes Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Chris Bassitt, Sean Manaea, Chad Pinder and Frankie Montas.

-- Martín Gallegos

Mariners: None
General manager Jerry Dipoto already optioned or released five of Seattle’s eight arbitration-eligible players, so the Mariners don’t have any likely non-tender candidates remaining. The only possibility would be Mitch Haniger, should the Mariners determine he’s too much of a health risk to re-up for what figures to be in the neighborhood of his $3 million salary in 2020, when he was forced to sit out the entire season following surgery on a herniated disc. Haniger hasn’t played since June of 2019 due to a series of complications from a ruptured testicle, but the Mariners believe the '18 All-Star will be ready to go this spring and are projecting him to start in right field, so only a significant setback this winter would expose him to a non-tender situation. Seattle's other two arbitration-eligible players are catcher Tom Murphy and shortstop J.P. Crawford, who are both expected to play key roles.

-- Greg Johns

Rangers: Danny Santana, UTIL
Santana was the Rangers' Player of the Year in 2019, when he hit .283 with 28 home runs, 81 RBIs and a .534 slugging percentage. But he was limited to just 15 games this past season because of a sprained right elbow and underwent surgery on Sept. 9. Instead of having Tommy John surgery, Santana had an internal brace inserted. That is expected to speed up the recovery time, although it is still uncertain whether Santana will be ready for Opening Day. The Rangers could non-tender Santana and then re-sign him to a new contract of lesser value. He is a switch-hitter who can play multiple positions, so the Rangers could still find a spot for him next season.

-- T.R. Sullivan

National League East

Braves: Johan Camargo, 3B -- UPDATE: Agreed to 1-year deal
Camargo helped the Braves win the first of their three consecutive division titles, serving as their starting third baseman for most of the 2018 season. But the versatile infielder has hit just .222 with a .645 OPS while serving as a backup both of the past two seasons. With Austin Riley showing signs he is the third baseman of the future, the Braves could bid adieu to Camargo or at least attempt to strike a deal that would pay him less than the approximate $2 million he could earn via arbitration. But a lack of organizational infield depth might at least add some intrigue to this decision.

-- Mark Bowman

Marlins: Jesús Aguilar, 1B
The original pick here was José Ureña, who was designated for assignment on Monday. That leaves the 30-year-old Aguilar as the next most likely candidate for the Marlins. Though he was productive in his first season in Miami, Aguilar could be the odd man out given the way manager Don Mattingly put his lineup together in the postseason. The Marlins deployed Garrett Cooper -- who is also arbitration eligible -- as the starting first baseman, while Aguilar was relegated to designated hitter duties. Without the guarantee of a DH in the NL moving forward, that could leave Aguilar on the outside looking in.

-- Joe Frisaro

Mets: Robert Gsellman, RHP
Since he tantalized the Mets as a rookie starting pitcher late in 2016, Gsellman has not developed as the team once hoped he would. He posted a 5.19 ERA mostly as a starter the following season, before converting to bullpen work and experiencing only limited success -- a 4.45 ERA with 14 saves -- from 2018-19. A right shoulder injury set Gsellman back early this past season, before the Mets’ starting-pitching shortage prompted them to try him again out of the rotation. That experiment flopped; Gsellman lasted 9 1/3 innings combined over four starts, posting an 8.68 ERA. Gsellman is 27, coming off a year in which he made $1.225 million through arbitration. The Mets could stick with him, hoping to draw success out of what is clearly still a live arm. Or they could non-tender him, saving some cash on a player who is no guarantee even to make their Opening Day roster.

-- Anthony DiComo

Nationals: None
The Nationals' non-tender candidates are already off the roster. At the beginning of the offseason, their top candidate was the reliever Roenis Elías, who didn't pitch in 2020 because of a left forearm flexor strain and has appeared in a total of three innings for Washington since being acquired from the Mariners in '19. But Elías cleared outright waivers and declared free agency on Oct. 10. Less than a week later, backup outfielder Michael A. Taylor -- another non-tender candidate -- also elected free agency after clearing outright waivers, ending his tenure with the Nats after seven seasons. Washington inked left-handed reliever Sam Clay this month, and the club has questions to answer in the outfield after declining its option on right fielder Adam Eaton.

-- Jessica Camerato

Phillies: Vince Velasquez, RHP
Since Velasquez posted a promising 4.16 ERA, a 3.96 FIP and a 101 ERA+ in 24 starts with the Phillies in 2016, inconsistency has been his calling card. Velasquez was a combined 19-28 with a 4.99 ERA, a 4.60 FIP and a 86 ERA+ from 2017-20. He has been demoted from the rotation and moved to the bullpen a couple times, but he hasn’t fared better there either. Velasquez still has good stuff, but he has not been able to get everything clicking at the same time. He made $3.6 million last season. The Phillies need to find some consistency at the back of the rotation, so it would be understandable if they non-tender him and try to find better value elsewhere, or perhaps try to re-sign him for less and hope that new pitching coach Caleb Cotham can get him on track.

-- Todd Zolecki

NL Central

Brewers: Corey Knebel, RHP
The Brewers have a number of interesting calls, including catcher Omar Narváez, who is coming off a dismal debut season in Milwaukee; left-hander Alex Claudio, who was non-tendered a year ago and subsequently re-signed as a free agent; and Daniel Vogelbach, who gave the team a late-season jolt but is considered more of a designated hitter than a first baseman. But their priciest decision is Knebel, who earned $5.125 million each of the past two years and is arbitration eligible one final time coming off a disjointed season in which the right-hander returned from Tommy John surgery. Denied a Minor League rehab assignment because of the pandemic, Knebel struggled with velocity and was hit hard before heading to the injured list with a hamstring issue. That pause proved extremely beneficial, as Knebel saw his velocity return in six promising appearances down the stretch. Was it enough for the Brewers to bet another $5 million-plus?

-- Adam McCalvy

Cardinals: John Brebbia, RHP
Coming off a lost season due to Tommy John surgery, Brebbia is arbitration eligible for the first time. While the right-hander emerged as a high-leverage reliever and even a possible closer candidate at the end of 2019, the Cardinals must weigh Brebbia’s role in ‘21, given the emergence of young relievers like Kodi Whitley and Seth Elledge. Brebbia had a 3.59 ERA in 72 2/3 innings in 2019, appearing in 66 games, striking out 87 and walking 27. His fastball/slider combination gives him value in the bullpen, but the road back from Tommy John surgery could be a tricky one. Given the Cardinals want to save as much money as they can in 2021, Brebbia’s arbitration raise might not be worth the cost. Another arbitration-eligible reliever, John Gant, could also be considered a non-tender candidate.

-- Anne Rogers

Cubs: Albert Almora Jr., OF
One of the great developments of the 2020 season for the Cubs was the strong showing from Ian Happ, whose production led to him earning the everyday job in center field. That led to a situation where Almora found himself sparingly used off the bench as a pinch-hitter, pinch-runner and late-inning defensive replacement. After the Trade Deadline, Almora was sent to the Cubs’ alternate training site to get regular action. Now, Chicago must weigh whether to tender Almora a contract for 2021, given how much his role has diminished. Over the 2019-20 seasons combined, Almora hit .230/.270/.366 in 158 games, with a .212 average against lefty pitching. The Cubs could use a right-handed outfield complement for ‘20, but it’s not clear whether Almora will be the solution. The Cubs have a handful of non-tender candidates besides Almora. José Martínez went 0-for-21 after being acquired at the Trade Deadline and may not fit in the '21 puzzle. There are a few arms that could be at risk of being let go as well.

-- Jordan Bastian

Pirates: Erik González, SS
The Pirates unsurprisingly entered the offseason with a handful of non-tender candidates, given their poor performance last season and the long list of arbitration-eligible players filling out their 40-man roster. They already took care of some of this business before the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft by designating for assignment Trevor Williams and José Osuna, two non-tender candidates. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they cut ties with reliever Michael Feliz, one of the four players they acquired in the Gerrit Cole trade two years ago, given his injuries and inconsistency. But the González case is particularly interesting because there are equally strong arguments for him to be cut loose and for him to return as their starting shortstop. The slick-fielding infielder had an excellent August at the plate, then slumped terribly in September, ultimately finishing the season with a .614 OPS -- lower than his career mark (.645). He’s their best defensive shortstop, but they have other Major League options in Kevin Newman and Cole Tucker along with a host of middle-infield prospects coming up through their system. Even at an affordable salary, is it worth bringing back González if he’s going to take up playing time that could go to younger players?

-- Adam Berry

Reds: Curt Casali, C
The Reds already outrighted their likely non-tender candidates, but one player to watch is Casali. The team -- especially the pitchers -- loves having him, and the expected raise from his $1.46 million 2020 salary shouldn’t be a budget-buster. But Cincinnati has Tucker Barnhart under contract already for 2021, and its top catching prospect, Tyler Stephenson, is expected to be ready for the big leagues after a good showing during his brief opportunities last season. Like Stephenson, Casali is a right-handed hitter.

-- Mark Sheldon

NL West

D-backs: None
The D-backs dealt with their potential non-tenders already. Right-hander Silvino Bracho was outrighted off the 40-man roster while fellow right-hander Junior Guerra was designated for assignment last week. The remaining arbitration-eligible players include Carson Kelly, Caleb Smith and Luke Weaver, all of whom figure to be tendered and play significant roles for the team in 2021.

-- Steve Gilbert

Dodgers: Scott Alexander, LHP
Most of the Dodgers’ arbitration-eligibles are key players who can’t be lost (Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Corey Seager, Julio Urías). Catcher Austin Barnes is a backup at a position of depth, but his salary is modest and he proved his worth in the World Series. That leaves relievers Alexander and Dylan Floro, whose salaries of around $1 million make them affordable depth. If there is one who is more expendable, it would be Alexander, who spent most of the 2020 season at the alternate training site after returning from '19 hand surgery.

-- Ken Gurnick

Giants: Daniel Robertson, UTIL
Acquired from the Rays in August, Robertson impressed in limited action with the Giants, going 7-for-21 with two RBIs over 13 games, but he could have a tougher time sticking with the club now that rosters are set to shrink from 28 to 26 players in 2021. The Giants are expected to carry a left-handed-hitting infielder to back up Evan Longoria at third base, which would likely give someone like Jason Vosler an edge over Robertson for a bench role. Robertson is also entering his second year of arbitration eligibility and will be due a raise from his $1.025 million salary in 2020. Still, the former first-round Draft pick is only 26 and has the ability to rove between the infield and the outfield, so perhaps the Giants will value his skill set enough to keep him around.

-- Maria Guardado

Padres: Greg Garcia, UTIL
Garcia has been a useful and versatile bench piece in two seasons with San Diego, playing all over the infield and coming up with some important pinch-hits against right-handed pitching. But Garcia batted just .200 with a .529 OPS last season, and he’s slated to receive a raise from his $1.5 million salary this past season. There’s not much playing time available in the Padres' infield, and the team already has Austin Nola and Jorge Mateo available to fill in when needed. It’s tough to envision a role for Garcia on the 2021 Padres. But if there’s any path, the team’s lack of a lefty bench bat might provide one.

-- AJ Cassavell

Rockies: Tony Wolters, C
An ominous sign came late in the 2020 season, when the Rockies began using Elias Díaz instead of Wolters when Germán Márquez was starting. Previously, Wolters and Márquez were almost always paired. Manager Bud Black sees catching as primarily a defensive position and has used Wolters as the regular starter the last couple of years. But Wolters hit .230 with a .550 OPS in 2020, and Rockies catchers as a whole were among the least productive in the Majors with the bat. Wolters is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to end up with a $2 million salary via arbitration, and the Rockies are facing arbitration decisions on a whopping nine pitchers. Righty Chi Chi González also looks to be a non-tender candidate, but the club could quickly attempt to re-sign him.

-- Thomas Harding