Yesterday, December 2nd, marked one of the most consequential deadlines in MLB: the non-tender deadline. This year was equally important, if not more, as we saw a flurry of non-tender moves that wasn’t quite like any year we’ve seen before. As such, we’re doing a series of articles to cover every move made by each team leading up to the non-tender deadline. In this article, Ryan Ruhde covers the NL Central.
For those who are new to this process, here is a short explanation of the significance of the non-tender deadline. Players who have not yet exceeded six years of Major League service time (time spent on a Major League roster) remain under team control with the team for whom they played in 2020. In a player’s first three years of service time, he is owed the league minimum salary by his team. In the three years after that, he is eligible for arbitration, meaning that he and his team must either agree to a salary for the next season or, if they cannot come to an agreement, each submit their desired salary figure to an arbitrator who settles the player’s contract for the upcoming season. Regardless of whether a player is in his arbitration or pre-arbitration years, his team must first decide to tender him a contract for the coming season. If a player’s team does not tender him a contract, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The deadline to tender contracts for this process was yesterday. The majority of players here who were tendered do not yet have a salary decided for 2021, but those who have a salary figure have already signed a contract. The players listed as non-tenders are now unrestricted free agents.
- OF Albert Almora Jr.
- OF Kyle Schwarber
- OF Jose Martinez
- RP Ryan Tepera
- RP Colin Rea: 1 year/$702,000
- RP Dan Winkler: 1 year/$900,000
- RP Kyle Ryan: 1 year/$800,000
- Claimed RP Robert Stock off waivers from the Red Sox
The Cubs have a very high proportion of their payroll tied up in arbitration, so several of their non-tender decisions were potentially consequential. While the team committed to Kris Bryant’s contract for 2021 unless they trade him, they non-tendered former first round draft picks Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. after Almora failed to develop into a productive everyday player and Schwarber took a step backwards offensively in 2020. Trade deadline acquisition Jose Martinez is also on his way out after failing to record a hit with the team. Stock has had a very up and down career but was solid in 2020, and should be nothing more than bullpen depth if he does make the Major League roster for the Cubs.
- IF Kyle Farmer: 1 year Major League contract
The Reds were fairly active in non-tendering players, with five being the second most non-tenders made by any one team behind the Royals. Goodwin and Bradley are notable non-tenders, as they were both 2020 trade deadline acquisitions by the Reds and will now see free agency just three months later. Casali was the team’s backup catcher, but will now be a free agent as well. Farmer was non-tendered before signing a contract with the team to return in 2021.
- OF Ben Gamel
- RP Alex Claudio
- IF Jace Peterson
- SS Orlando Arcia: 1 year/$2M
- 1B Daniel Vogelbach: 1 year/$1.4M
- C Manny Pina: 1 year/$1.65M
- C Omar Narvaez: 1 year Major League contract
- C Luke Maile: 1 year Major League contract
- Traded RP Corey Knebel to the Dodgers for a PTBNL or cash
The Brewers were relatively active, non-tendering three players who saw playing time with the Major League squad in 2020 in Gamel, Claudio and Peterson. Hader and Woodruff were obvious tenders, and the Brewers also successfully agreed to contracts with several important position players. Notably, they now have five catchers on their 40 man roster, so they may be in the trade market to deal at least one of them for a return, perhaps another position player. Finally, they shipped out Knebel, who was excellent in 2017 and played an important role in a killer 2018 bullpen, but who missed the 2019 season and pitched poorly in 2020.
- RP Clay Holmes
- 1B Josh Bell
- SP Joe Musgrove
- SP Steven Brault
- SS Erik Gonzalez: 1 year/$1.225M
- SP Jameson Taillon: 1 year Major League contract
- RP Michael Feliz: 1 year Major League contract
The Pirates were relatively quiet at the non-tender deadline, non-tendering only pitcher Clay Holmes, who was a fairly obvious candidate after pitching poorly in 2018-19 and barely seeing the mound at all in 2020. Otherwise the Bucs roster went largely unchanged at the deadline, and now the team will await salary arbitration, most notably for Josh Bell.
St. Louis Cardinals
- CF Harrison Bader
- RP Jordan Hicks
- SP Jack Flaherty
- RP Alex Reyes
- RP John Gant
Aside from their tender/non-tender decisions to be made, the Cardinals made no roster moves at the non-tender deadline. Many of their tender decisions were fairly obvious, with Hicks, Flaherty, Reyes, and Gant comprising a large part of the pitching talent on the Cardinals roster. Brebbia is a fairly notable non-tender, as he had considerable success in 2019 before missing the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery.