The regular season just ended over the weekend. The first round of the playoffs are one game in. And the offseason is quite long, with very little action taking place in terms of player acquisition coming before the winter meetings in December. But teams have plenty of decisions to make about their own players prior to jumping into free agency and trade scenarios. While the non-tender date is November 17th, plenty of players are non-tendered or designated for assignment before then. After the World Series ends, teams must get their 40-man roster down to 40 players. Players on the 60-day injured list do not count towards the 40-man count during the season, but the 60-day injured list goes away after the season.
The Cincinnati Reds currently have 46 players on the 40-man roster if we include players on the 60-day injured list. Graham Ashcraft, Justin Dunn, Vladimir Gutierrez, Nick Lodolo, Connor Overton, and Reiver Sanmartin are all going to have to be accounted for in a few weeks. Harrison Bader, Buck Farmer, and Luke Maile are all slated to be free agents. Curt Casali and Joey Votto have team options on their 2024 status.
That’s a lot of talk about non-arbitration eligible players. But the reason I went about typing all of that is because it may come into play shortly with arbitration eligible players because some of them may very well be non-tendered or designated for assignment by the club rather than retained and/or given a raise now that they have reached a certain level of arbitration.
1st Year Arbitration Eligible Players
Four players will be arbitration eligible for the first time. Vladimir Gutierrez is the lone pitcher here. He’s joined by Tyler Stephenson, Jonathan India, and Jake Fraley.
The three position players are all starters. Gutierrez has been a starting pitcher and briefly a reliever in 2022 for two games before he landed on the injured list and as it would turn out, undergoing Tommy John surgery.
2nd Year Arbitration Eligible Players
There are also four players from the 2023 Reds who will be arbitration eligible for the second time. All four players here are pitchers. Left-handed reliever Alex Young, and right-handed pitchers Derek Law, Tejay Antone, and Justin Dunn will all be looking for a raise for 2024.
Alex Young and Derek Law spent the season with the Reds, pitching in 63 and 54 games during the year. Tejay Antone missed much of the year, after missing all of 2022 after he underwent his second Tommy John surgery. He returned to pitch in five games – all in September – before spending the final three weeks back on the injured list. Justin Dunn has missed most of the last three seasons, including all of 2023. And after dealing with a shoulder injury for that entire time he underwent surgery in September.
3rd Year Arbitration Eligible Players
There are only two players who will be arbitration eligible for a third time from the 2023 club. Nick Senzel will be joined by Lucas Sims.
The crew over at MLB Trade Rumors seems to be fairly good at projecting how much players will get in arbitration. They have not yet released their projections – they usually come out in the middle of October – so we don’t know how much everyone is projected to make. We do know two things, though: How much they made this year and that while most arbitration results lead to a raise, players can technically be given a reduction in salary that is up to 20% lower than what they got the previous year. This obviously does not apply to players in their first year because they made the league minimum and can’t be paid less than that.
Here is what each of the players that are arbitration eligible made last season:
|Player||Arb Year||2023 Salary|
|Jonathan India||1st||League minimum|
|Jake Fraley||1st||League minimum|
|Tyler Stephenson||1st||League minimum|
|Vladimir Gutierrez||1st||League minimum|
Assuming the Reds decide to keep all of these players around and tender them contracts for 2024, as a group they’re going to get a raise. When it comes to how much it will add to the payroll, it’s likely to be minimal because of the structure of how arbitration works. The big raises come in the 3rd year of arbitration (or in rare cases where a player is eligible for a 4th year). Superstar caliber players will get good, but not extreme raises in the first year or two. None of the above players fall into that category, and the third-year eligible guys for Cincinnati are a utility-man in Senzel and a non-closing reliever in Sims.