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MLB free agency: Cody Bellinger and more non-tender candidates who could find themselves on the market

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Major League Baseball’s deadline for signing unsigned players is November 18 this year, or a couple of weeks earlier than usual. For those unfamiliar with the concept, teams must decide whether contract offers should be extended to all players who have not yet signed guaranteed deals. This applies to most players with less than six years of major league service (although there are exceptions, such as players who agreed to a long-term extension early in their career).

Players who do not receive contract offers are described as “non-bidders”, meaning they become free agents. Unlike traditional free agents who have the necessary work experience, these players rarely enter into contracts for several years. Many of them find new homes on a one-year deal, with their salary either equal to or less than their estimated arbitrage bonus.

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We here at CBS Sports are nothing short of a speculative player, so below we’ve highlighted 10 potential players who could go public or at least move to another franchise later this November. (Note that the players are listed in alphabetical order, and that you can find the full list of MLB Trade Rumors arbitrage wage predictions by clicking here.)

1. Brian Anderson, 3B/OF, Marlins

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There was a point earlier in Anderson’s career when he tallied three consecutive winning seasons in 2018-19 when it looked like he could be a franchise cornerstone. That did not happen. Instead, he took a step back over the last two seasons, posting 90 OPS+ and amassing just 1.6 combined wins over replacements. Now Anderson is 29, whose projected arbitrage prize (north of $5 million) will make him one of the highest-paid players on the Marlins’ roster. Another franchise, endowed with a large financial obligation from ownership, might overlook this price. Probably not Fish, who used Anderson sparingly out of deference to younger, cheaper in-house options.

2. Cody Bellinger, GM, Dodgers

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The Dodgers played a do-it-not game with Bellinger last offseason, ultimately deciding to bring him back for another year. The good news is that he has improved his game from his efforts in 2021; the bad news is that its performance has remained well below previously established levels. Bellinger is only 27 years old and has been less than three full winters before receiving his MVP award. However, there aren’t many teams that can afford to invest $18 million in a player who would do well with a .280 base percentage. The Dodgers are one such team, but we think they can recognize that it’s time to move on.

3. Jamer Candelario, 3B, Tigers

The first major decision the new Tigers front office will have to make is to decide the fate of Candelario. (Hey, big is a relative term.) He’s had a runway career to date, and last season he landed safely in the bottom basket. It’s worth noting that Candelario could qualify for free agent status with another year in the big leagues, meaning the Tigers can look at it straight: Would they sign him to a $7 million one-year deal if they could. or would they rather use the money elsewhere. The third base market is empty, so any choice is justified.

4. Keston Khiura, 1B, Brewers

If we It was to guess, we would write that Hiura will make the cut. He is projected to earn $2 million next year after scoring 115+ points in 80 games last season. It seems like a small change for an above-average striker, but we’re not sure he’ll stay that way. In 2022, Hiura scored in over 40 percent of his matches at home and he continued to provide negative defensive value. The Brewers have 18 arbitrage-qualified players on their roster, which means they’re in for tough decisions. A move from a 26-year-old former top 10 player would fit the bill.

5. Adrian Hauser, RHP, Brewers

By sticking with the Brewers, Houser is predicted to earn nearly $4 million in 2023. During the pandemic era, he started 58 times with a 101 ERA+ and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 1.65. He doesn’t miss at-bats (his 83 percent contact frequency last year was the fourth-highest among 186 pitchers with 10+ starts), and he’s always had a significant platoon separation. You can never have too much depth of serve, but we think the Brewers would be justified in dropping the Hauser lure and giving someone else a chance.

6. Dakota Hudson, RHP, Cardinals

These decisions are not always about dollars and cents. Sometimes they relate to the place in the squad and the composition of the team. Hudson is set to earn a modest $2.7 million next season, but due to a disappointing 2022 season, he could be considered expendable. After all, the Cardinals can field a veteran starting rotation without even diving into the pool of young hands that includes Matthew Liberatore, Gordon Graseffo or Michael McGreevy. Where does it leave the Hudson? Probably in a different lineup. (The Rockies, for example, have expressed interest in his services in the past.)

7. Brad Keller, RHP, Royals

The Royals have been very patient with Keller, whom they originally acquired in the 2017-18 Rule 5 draft. Alas, the last two seasons, he did not live up to their faith. In 61 combined matches (48 starts), he amassed 82 ERA+ and a 1.83 strikeout to walk ratio. The royals are in a good starting rotation to not be a contender (or close to it), suggesting new CEO JJ Picollo can put to better use both Keller’s projected $7 million salary and $20+ million. starts.

8. Emilio Pagan, RHP, Gemini

Pagan is one of the most frustrating pitchers in the majors. After a career-best record in 2019, he has played 148 games over the past three seasons, racking up an 85 ERA+, which is a terrible stat for a highly leveraged pitcher. (For context: Hansel Robles is the only pitcher with 10 or more saves and the worst ERA+ in the pandemic era.) Pagan is good enough to score more than a strikeout per frame, but that hasn’t stopped him from dropping close. to two home runs every nine innings for the past three years. Maybe the Twins are keeping him close with the thought that he should have another good season. You can forgive them if they decide otherwise.

9. Franmil Reyes, DH, Cubs

The Cubs took a chance on Reyes after being abandoned by the Guardians in August. It was a smart game. No matter how he struggled in 2022, he was not what away from a season with 30 Homers in 2021. Reyes did play better with the Cubs, taking his season-long OPS+ from 73 to 81, but it’s not enough for them to keep him at his $6 million projected cost. Reyes is only 27 years old, but he’s going to be in junior high full time if he doesn’t start hitting again, and soon.

10. Dominic Smith, 1B, Mets

We’ll end the list with Smith, who is expected to earn around $4 million next season. For the past few years, he has been constantly available for trade, but no one took him due to his stalled game. He failed to build on the momentum he set in 2019-20 and instead posted 78 OPS+ in his last 645 trips to the plate. It’s not like the kids say what you want from a player who offers negative secondary value.


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