We interrupt a seemingly endless stream of 2013 reviews to point out that tonight at midnight eastern time is the non-tender deadline. What that means is that the Dodgers, and every other team, must tender a contract to their arbitration-eligible players, or else non-tender them and allow them to become a free agent.
Really, the only reason you wouldn’t tender an arbitration-eligible guy is if you think he’ll make more in arbitration than he’s worth, as we saw a few years ago when the uncertainty over Russell Martin‘s health and declining production as compared to increasing salary led to him being set free.
Since the Dodgers already took care of arbitration-eligibles Mike Baxter, Drew Butera, & Scott Elbert, they have four remaining players to handle — Clayton Kershaw, A.J. Ellis, Kenley Jansen, & Ronald Belisario. The first three are givens to be tendered today, and they’ll either be signed to contracts later this winter or play 2014 under whatever dollar figure they are awarded by the arbitrator. (Which rarely happens; the Dodgers almost always sign their players first, even if only to a one-year deal.)
Belisario is probably going to get tendered, but I’m not sure it’s a slam dunk. He’s projected to make about $2.3m, per MLB Trade Rumors, and there’s an argument to be made that you can easily replace his particular brand of inconsistency with minimum-salary options. That’s probably true, but then the Dodgers aren’t the kind of team to quibble over a million or two here and there, and it’s long been Ned Colletti’s style to keep control over as many players as possible.
If contracts aren’t agreed upon first, teams must exchange salary figures with arbitration players on January 17, and hearings are scheduled in early February.