With tonight’s 8pm ET deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players looming, there’ll be several players who agree to one-year contracts for the 2020 season today. It’s common for the day of the non-tender deadline to be a big one for arbitration agreements, though it’s also worth noting that many of the players who agree to terms today will do so at a rate that’s lower than the salary figures projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
Broadly speaking, players who agree to terms on a salary this far in advance tend to be those who were at risk of being non-tendered, and their teams are able to use tonight’s deadline as leverage in bringing about a deal that saves them a bit of cash. A look at some of the early instances of players agreeing to terms reveals this to be true already; Mike Zunino ($4.5MM salary vs. $4.9MM projection), Wilmer Difo ($1MM salary vs. $1.2MM projection) and Scott Alexander ($875K salary vs. $1MM projection) have all agreed to lesser terms rather than risk being cast out into the free-agent market.
We’ll keep track of today’s players who avoid arbitration in this post and update throughout the day…
- Infielder Orlando Arcia has avoided arbitration with the Brewers, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Though he’s set to lose some playing time, it seems Arcia will be expected to retain a notable role. He’s considered a talented defender at short and was long expected to come around with the bat, but it hasn’t happened yet.
- Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes is in agreement on a $1.1MM deal, per Robert Murray (Twitter link). It’s a guaranteed deal, which isn’t standard for arbitration pacts. Barnes had projected at $1.3MM on the heels of a disappointing season. It seems he’ll be asked to function as the club’s second backstop in 2020.
- The Rangers have a deal in place with right-hander Nick Goody, the club announced. He’ll earn $915K, according to MLB.com’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter). Goody projected to earn $1.1MM, so he’s taking a discount on that mark with his new club.
- Just-acquired righty Jharel Cotton has agreed to a $640K deal with the Cubs, Rosenthal tweets. Cotton had projected at $800K but he’s surely focused first and foremost on getting a significant MLB opportunity. He didn’t quite make it back to the majors in 2019 after a long injury layoff but figures to represent a swingman option for the Chicago club in 2020.
- Outfielder Alex Dickerson and lefty Wandy Peralta are in agreement with the Giants, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter links). Dickerson settled for $925K, which is well under his $1.2MM projected earning power. The 29-year-old has had trouble staying healthy but usually hits when he is on the field. He rewarded the San Francisco organization for taking a shot on him last year by turning in a .290/.351/.529 batting line in 171 plate appearances. As for Peralta, he lands right at his projected value with a $805K salary. The 28-year-old was claimed off waivers late in the 2019 season.
- The White Sox and James McCann avoided arbitration with a one-year deal worth $5.4MM, tweets ESPN’s Jeff Passan. McCann’s deal checks in a half million dollars north of his $4.9MM projection. Chicago’s addition of Yasmani Grandal has likely relegated McCann to backup duties, so he’ll be a rather expensive second catcher for the South Siders. A free agent next winter, McCann hit .273/.328/.460 with a career-high 18 home runs, but his bat went dormant in the season’s final few months and his .359 BABIP seems particularly ripe for regression.
- The Athletics avoided arbitration with left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $1.8MM, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. That salary effectively puts McFarland in line for the same salary he’d have received had he had his $1.85MM club option exercised by the Diamondbacks. Arizona, however, bought him out for $50K and then ran him through waivers, at which point the A’s claimed him. The 30-year-old posted a 4.82 ERA with a middling 5.6 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 56 2/3 innings this past season, but he’s a ground-ball behemoth (61.1 percent). He’ll be a free agent next winter and had been projected at $2.1MM.
- Infielder Ehire Adrianza and the Twins agreed on a $1.6MM salary for the upcoming season, Nightengale tweets. The versatile utilityman hit .272/.349/.416 in 236 plate appearances while appearing at all four infield spots and both outfield corners. Adrianza, a free agent next winter, was projected at $1.9MM.
- Outfielder Travis Jankowski agreed to a rare arbitration pay cut with the Reds, Bobby Nightengale Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. After earning $1.165MM in 2019, he’ll be owed $1.05MM in 2020 if he makes the club. A fractured wrist cost him much of the season in 2019, and he was just 4-for-22 when healthy and in the Majors. Jankowski did have a nice season in Triple-A, though (.393 OBP in 39 games), and the Reds gave up some international funds to acquire him, which seemingly indicated that they planned to tender him a contract. He was projected to earn $1.2MM.
- The Nationals announced that they’ve agreed to one-year deals with infielder Wilmer Difo and right-hander Hunter Strickland. (Difo’s deal was reported yesterday.) Acquired from the Mariners in a deadline swap, the 31-year-old Strickland was hit hard with the Nats, yielding a dozen runs on 20 hits (five homers) and eight walks with 15 strikeouts in 21 innings. The resulting 5.14 ERA wasn’t pretty, nor was his work in the NLDS (four runs in two innings). But with a $1.6MM salary projection, a quality track record and a clear bullpen need, he was appealing enough for the Nats to keep around on a non-guaranteed arbitration deal.
- Left-hander Mike Montgomery and the Royals are in agreement on a one-year, $3.1MM contract, Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports (Twitter link). Acquired in the trade that sent Martin Maldonado to the Cubs, Montgomery made 13 starts with Kansas City and turned in a 4.64 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.69 HR/9 and a 51.5 percent ground-ball rate. Those are hardly world-beating results, but Montgomery has never really struggled with home runs before, so perhaps the belief is that a correction to this past season’s juiced ball will lead to better numbers. He’d been projected to earn $2.9MM, so he actually came out a bit in front despite agreeing to an early deal. Not only that, but unlike most arbitration agreements, Montgomery’s contract is fully guaranteed, MLBTR has learned. The Royals can control Montgomery through 2021.
- The Phillies and Andrew Knapp agreed to a $710K salary for the upcoming season, thus avoiding arbitration, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports (via Twitter). The 28-year-old Knapp has yet to deliver on his prospect status with the Phils, slashing .223/.327/.336 through 579 plate appearances in the Majors (including .213/.318/.324 in 160 plate appearances this past season). With J.T. Realmuto entrenched as the backstop in 2020 (and perhaps beyond), Knapp profiles as the top backup option in Philadelphia for now. He’d been projected to earn $800K and is controllable through the 2022 season.
- The Orioles announced that they’ve agreed to terms on a 2020 contract with left-hander Richard Bleier. The southpaw had a rough go of things in his return from 2018 surgery to repair a Grade 3 lat strain — 5.37 ERA in 55 1/3 innings — but he finished the season strong. Bleier also continued to display superlative control (1.3 BB/9) and elite ground-ball skills (59.9 percent), both of which have helped to offset his paltry strikeout rates to this point in his career (4.3 K/9, 11.6 K%). He was projected to earn $1.1MM, but MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweets that Bleier has agreed to a $915K salary for the upcoming season.