Friday (January 13) marks the date that arbitration figures need to be submitted by both the players and the teams if they cannot come to an agreement on a contract for 2023. The Dodgers have ten such players who are eligible for arbitration.
- Julio Urías (arb #4 – Super Two)
- Walker Buehler (arb #3 – Super Two)
- Caleb Ferguson (arb #2)
- Yency Almonte (arb #1)
- Will Smith (arb #1)
- Dustin May (arb #1)
- Trayce Thompson (arb #1)
- Brusdar Graterol (arb #1)
- Tony Gonsolin (arb #1 – Super Two)
- Evan Phillips (arb #1 – Super Two)
The Dodgers have four players who have reached Super Two status. As a reminder, here is the definition of Super Two (per MLB):
Players typically must accrue three years of Major League service time — with one year of service time equaling 172 days on the 26-man roster or the Major League injured list — to become eligible for salary arbitration. Super Two is a designation that allows a select group of players to become eligible for arbitration before reaching three years of service time.
To qualify for the Super Two designation, players must rank in the top 22 percent, in terms of service time, among those who have amassed between two and three years in the Majors. The specific cutoff date varies on a year-to-year basis.
Essentially, the players who have been designated with a Super Two status have four years of arbitration instead of three. It has no affect on their free agency status, only allowing the player to reach arbitration earlier. Pre-arbitration salaries are simply salaries that teams force onto the players, generally just at (year 1) or just above (years 2 and 3) MLB minimum. Arbitration allows the player a larger runway for a better salary earlier than “normal”.
For 2023, the Super Two cutoff was 2.128 years. The Dodgers had two players meet that threshold…Tony Gonsolin (2.152 years) and Evan Phillips (2.136).
Since Andrew Friedman came to the Dodgers in October 2014, the Dodgers have been what is referred to as a “file and trial” participant in arbitration. In other words, the Dodgers will do everything in their power to make sure that they do not go to arbitration with any of their players. If they cannot agree on a contract, the Dodgers will file, and if they do, they will go to trial.
For the Dodgers during the AF era, both the team and players have been extremely successful with negotiating contracts prior to needing to go to arbitration. Only 6 out of 60 arbitration eligible LAD players have had to exchange salary figures during the AF era. The last two players that have gone to actual arbitration were in 2020. Joc lost his arbitration case receiving the LAD submission of $7.75MM instead of Joc’s $9.5MM. However, Pedro Baez won his case earning $4MM rather than the Dodgers submission of $3.5MM. Those were the first two Dodgers to reach arbitration since LHRP Joe Beimel in 2007. The Dodgers won that arbitration hearing.
While the Dodgers will cease negotiating single year contracts after the salary exchange, they will consider multi-year deals. Four LAD arbitration eligible players have signed multi-year deals prior to arbitration.
- Max Muncy signed a $26MM three year deal, covering all three of his arbitration years.
- Chris Taylor signed a two year $13.4MM contract taking him out of his final two years of arbitration.
- Walker Buehler signed a 2-year $8MM contract eliminating his first two years of arbitration.
- Austin Barnes signed a 2-year $4.3MM deal eliminating his final two years of arbitration.
The likelihood of the Dodgers staying under the CBT threshold in 2023 is bleak, and it is the arbitration eligible players that will undoubtedly take them over. I have long been an advocate of Matt Swartz and his arbitration figures, which are reported on MLBTR. That is the figure I used in my current AAV projection, and that projection keeps the Dodgers slightly below the threshold. They are all a guess, and Eric Stephen at True Blue LA did his own evaluation. If the salaries approach more of Stephen’s projection, the Dodgers will be over the CBT threshold.
Do the Dodgers just bite the bullet and negotiate multi year extensions with some of the players? Primarily, do they look to extend Julio Urías and Will Smith? I would not expect the Dodgers to negotiate any multi-year deals for any of the relievers (Ferguson, Almonte, Graterol, and Phillips). Maybe the first two years for Gonsolin, like they did for Buehler.
Will AF/BG trade any of the arbitration eligible players?
Regardless, look for the Dodgers to consummate multiple contracts with their arbitration eligible players this week. The 2023 AAV will become a lot more in focus by Friday.