Certain players, like Joey Votto and Johnny Cueto, are already under contract for 2015. Others, like Billy Hamilton, with fewer than three years of major league service time, have to play for whatever the team wants to pay them, subject to league minimums established in the collective bargaining agreement. Those players can also be sent to the minor leagues and be paid a minor league salary. So their salary isn’t set until the club decides whether the player will be in the majors or not.
A third category of players are those who have at least three years of service time. The collective bargaining agreements stipulates that those players have the right to have an arbitrator set their salary, if the team makes an offer (“tender”) and the player is dissatisfied with that amount.
That’s where the concept of non-tendering comes into play. If a team chooses to non-tender a player, that means they decline to offer him a salary at all. Under what circumstance would a team do that? They do it when they don’t want to pay anywhere close to what they fear an arbitrator would award or if they just don’t have room for that player on their roster. Say, for example, a team thinks a player is only worth $750,000, but fears the arbitrator will award a salary of $2.5 million, the team can decline to make an offer to that player. Players who are non-tendered immediately become free agents and can sign with other organizations.
The deadline for major league clubs to tender contracts to their players is 11:59 pm ET Tuesday night, Dec. 2.
The Reds have nine players who are potential non-tender candidates. This list shows their service time in parentheses and the estimateÃ‚Â (Matt Swartz, MLBTR) of what they will earn in arbitration.
- Alfredo Simon (5.142) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ $5.1MM
- Mat Latos (5.079) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ $8.4MM
- Mike Leake (5.000) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ $9.5MM
- Chris Heisey (4.157) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ $2.2MM
- Logan Ondrusek (4.125) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ $2.3MM
- Aroldis Chapman (4.034) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ $8.3MM
- Zack Cozart (3.084) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ $2.3MM
- Todd Frazier (3.071) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ $4.6MM
- Devin Mesoraco (3.028) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ $2.8MM
It would be a shock ifÃ‚Â the Reds don’t tender salaries to Simon, Latos, Leake, Chapman, Cozart, Frazier and Mesoraco.
Chris Heisey turns 30 in two weeks and the Reds have two years’ control of Heisey. He has a career line of .247/.299/.422 over 1452 plate appearances. He has played strong defense at all three outfield positions. Heisey has also been successful as a pinch hitter. In 299 PA last year, Heisey earned 1.0 WAR (average of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference) and was paid $1.76 million. On the other hand, the Reds have Jay Bruce and Billy Hamilton coming back and Skip Schumaker signed to a 2015 contract. They are also seeking another OF this offseason and have Donald Lutz, Jason Bourgeois and possibly Jesse Winker who would play for nearly $2 million less than Heisey.
Like Heisey, Logan Ondrusek turns 30 before Opening Day, and belongs to the Reds for two more years. His career numbers (3.89 ERA, 4.43 FIP, 4.29 xFIP, 3.94 SIERA) are nothing spectacular. His 5.49 ERA in 2014 stands out, but he was a little unlucky. Ondrusek’s strikeout rate has been above 22% for two years and his walk rate has been below his career number as well. His SIERA last year was just 3.36, one of the best on the Reds’ staff. He earned -0.5 WAR last season. Ondrusek would seem to be a solid non-tender candidate, but the Reds organization has seemed to see something in Ondrusek than the fans do.
We’ll know the answers by midnight tomorrow.