The Dodgers avoided salary arbitration with right-hander Walker Buehler on Wednesday, agreeing to a two-year, $8 million deal, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The club has not confirmed.
According to Feinsand, Buehler filed for $4.15 million in his first year of arbitration, while the Dodgers countered at $3.3 million. The midpoint was $3.725 million. In the two-year deal, the Dodgers will pay Buehler $2.75 million in 2021 and $3.25 million in '22, a source told MLB.com.
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal also reported that the Dodgers will give Buehler a $2 million signing bonus and the deal includes escalators, meaning his base salary could increase if he hits certain thresholds.
Buehler can earn up to $3 million if he makes 28 starts and would also make an extra $1.125 million if he wins the Cy Young Award. He would earn $625,000 if he finishes second or third in the voting.
After committing $85 million over the next two seasons to Trevor Bauer, the deal with Buehler might seem very team-friendly. But while the deal is certainly nowhere close to what Buehler would’ve gotten in the free-agent market, it’s important to remember that this was Buehler’s first time going through the arbitration process. Securing a two-year deal with escalators gives Buehler a chance to earn more than he would’ve had the two sides came to an agreement last month, and it gives him financial security through 2022.
As a Super Two player, Buehler will still be arbitration-eligible in 2023 and '24. If the right-hander continues his upward trajectory, he should be in line to receive a significant raise in the last two years of arbitration. He will be a free agent after the '24 season, unless the Dodgers lock him up to a long-term extension.
The Dodgers already had avoided arbitration with star outfielder Cody Bellinger, 2020 World Series MVP Corey Seager, left-hander Julio Urías and reliever Dylan Floro. Bellinger agreed to a $16.1 million deal in 2021, while Seager will get $13.75 million this season.
Austin Barnes is the Dodgers' last arbitration-eligible player who has not come to terms on a 2021 salary. His arbitration hearing should be in the next few days. Barnes filed for $2 million last month, but the Dodgers countered at $1.5 million.