Non-tender Candidates from Each Team
Every year around this time, we comb through our numbers and see which players on each team may be non-tender candidates (that is, players who won’t be offered contracts for next season). We do this largely by scanning our model for players with zero surplus value.
Sometimes this is the result of poor performance; in other cases, it’s that the value of the player’s projected performance is less than what he’s estimated to earn in salary – in other words, he’s worth less than he’s likely owed. In recent years, players who fit this profile have been non-tendered more often than not.
Most of these players are in – or are about to be in – their arbitration years, which means they’re getting expensive. In some cases, we’ve included pre-arb players whose performance is weak enough to warrant inclusion on this list, particularly if they’re running low on options, as is the case with former top prospects like Jo Adell, Jose Barrero, Carter Kieboom, and Cristian Pache.
Significant names are in bold.
Angels: Jo Adell, Jack Mayfield, Touki Toussaint, Andrew Velazquez, Chad Wallach, Jared Walsh
The Angels will probably give Adell at least one more shot to see if he can perform at the MLB level, but it’s not looking good. Walsh’s negative-WAR year has tanked his value and put his roster spot in jeopardy, especially now that he’s in his arb years.
Astros: Brandon Bielak, Josh James, Phil Maton, Enoli Paredes, Blake Taylor
James has immense talent, but cannot stay healthy, has put up -0.3 fWAR total in the past three years, and is no longer cheap. Maton had a dreadful year, and although he may be tendered, there’s no value there.
Athletics: Deolis Guerra, Vimael Machin, Cristian Pache, Joel Payamps, Sam Selman
It’s do-or-die time for Pache, who is now out of options. If he is tendered, he’s likely to be DFA’d at some point next year unless he somehow finds a way to hit.
Blue Jays: Jose De Leon, Thomas Hatch, Anthony Kay, Julian Merryweather, Trevor Richards, Raimel Tapia, Trent Thornton, Bradley Zimmer
Richards is getting too expensive relative to what he brings – he’s replaceable for less money. Ditto Tapia. And Merryweather can’t stay healthy.
Braves: Guillermo Heredia, Jackson Stephens
Perhaps it’s a mark of a well-run organization that there are no surprises here.
Brewers: Matt Bush, Trevor Gott, Jandel Gustave, Keston Hiura, Alex Jackson, Luis Perdomo, Hunter Renfroe, Pablo Reyes, Brent Suter, Rowdy Tellez
Lots of surprises here, however. Bush turned into a pumpkin after Milwaukee traded for him at the deadline. He’s out of options, and he’ll be 37 next year. Hiura has been on this list before, and even if you think he improved this year, he still only put up 0.8 fWAR, has no defensive value, and is out of options. Renfroe is fine, just too expensive now, at an estimated $11.2M, for what he brings to the table. Suter and Tellez both fell off this year, and are also now relatively expensive.
Cardinals: Austin Allen, Andrew Knizner, Jojo Romero, Chris Stratton, Kodi Whitley
Nothing to see here, although it’s somewhat notable that Knizner has had an open runway to take the starting catcher job, but has never quite seized it. He’s a backup at best. Stratton has had his moments, but he’s getting expensive and is out of options.
Cubs: Alec Mills, Franmil Reyes, Rowan Wick
Wick’s peripherals were awful this year, and Mills had a nightmare year.
Diamondbacks: Jordan Luplow, Corbin Martin, Keynan Middleton, Reyes Moronta, Sean Poppen, Caleb Smith, Pavin Smith, Taylor Widener
Martin is a former top prospect who’s never stayed healthy or put things together. Caleb Smith was once a hot enough commodity to be the key return in a Starling Marte trade, but has fallen off dramatically since. Pavin Smith had some initial prospect value, but has been a replacement-level player since he came up.
Dodgers: Cody Bellinger, Beau Burrows, Edwin Rios
Unfortunately for Bellinger, the jig is up. The Dodgers tendered him last year when they probably shouldn’t have, but there’s no way they’re going to pay $18M+ for a guy who hit .210 this year and .165 last year. He’s clearly not the same player he was prior to his injuries.
Giants: Austin Dean, Jarlin Garcia, Jakob Junis, Zack Littell, Alex Young
Junis was okay-ish as a back-end starter, but he’s getting expensive, and is out of options. Littell is coming off a negative-WAR year, is out of options, and had a kerfuffle with his manager to boot. Buh-bye.
Maybe the fact that Cleveland promoted at least a dozen rookies this year has something to do with it.
Mariners: Ryan Borucki, Sam Haggerty, Justus Sheffield, Drew Steckenrider, Abraham Toro, Luis Torrens
Sheffield was the centerpiece of the James Paxton trade a few years ago, but has gone from starting-pitching prospect to failed starter to reliever to failed reliever, and is now arb-eligible. Toro and Torrens combined for -1 fWAR and are both out of options.
Marlins: Brian Anderson, Elieser Hernandez, Jordan Holloway, Nick Neidert, Tanner Scott, Jacob Stallings, Cole Sulser, Joey Wendle
My goodness, Miami. This is brutal. Most of the guys on this list have had some degree of success, but a confluence of factors have put them here. Anderson, once the star of the team, has declined to a replacement-level player who’s owed over $5M in arbitration. He’s unlikely to get that after two consecutive below-average years. Hernandez’s peripherals have never been good, and his -0.9 fWAR this year reflected that. Scott’s WPA was -1.89, and now he’s set to make $2.7M. Sulser’s peripherals are ugly, and he too is due for a raise. Wendle is coming off a below-average season, and he’s just getting too expensive for what he brings, as he’s estimated to make $5.4M in arbitration assuming the Marlins decline a $6.3M mutual option. Stallings put up -0.6 fWAR, is out of options, and is projected to make $3.3M. Miami gave up a fair amount of prospect capital to acquire all four of Scott, Stallings, Sulser and Wendle in trade, and now all four have zero’d out in value.
Mets: Yoan Lopez, Dominic Smith, Drew Smith
Dominic Smith was on this list last year. The Mets should have listened to us and non-tendered him. Instead they wasted $4M on a guy who hit .194 and 33% below league-average. There’s no way they tender him now.
Nationals: Paolo Espino, Erick Fedde, Carter Kieboom, Victor Robles, Ildemaro Vargas, Luke Voit, Jordan Weems
Kieboom has put up -2.1 fWAR in his young career, and hit 37% below average. He just burned his last option year, so it may be time to call it. Robles has put up a total of 0 WAR over his last three years, and is now owed $2.5M. Time to call that one too. And no one is paying $8.2M for Voit’s replacement-level production.
Orioles: Anthony Bemboom, Cam Gallagher, Aramis Garcia
Nothing to see here, folks.
Padres: Austin Adams, Jorge Alfaro
Alfaro has long been an A.J. Preller favorite, but you may have noticed he hasn’t gotten much playing time lately. He’s a replacement-level backup due to make $3.6M.
Phillies: Sam Coonrod, Yairo Munoz, Garrett Stubbs
Lots of positives in Phillies Land these days.
Pirates: Miguel Andujar, Wil Crowe, Junior Fernandez, Tyler Heineman, Kevin Newman, Robert Stephenson, Duane Underwood, Jr., Bryse Wilson
Most of these guys are just fodder the Pirates have picked up in the hopes of getting lucky. Hasn’t quite worked out. Crowe has had his moments as a reliever, but the wheels fell off in the second half of this year. And Wilson had potential, but has never lived up to it. Andujar should have been non-tendered last year.
Rangers: Kolby Allard, Taylor Hearn, Spencer Howard, Brett Martin, Dennis Santana, Jesus Tinoco
This is a case of weak pitching meeting business realities. Former top prospect Howard just burned through his last option year with -0.7 fWAR. Hearn put up 0.9 fWAR, but with poor peripherals, and now stands to make $1.7M. He’s a likely journeyman. You can get the meager production all these guys bring for a lot less than they’re projected to make.
Rays: Shawn Armstrong, Yonny Chirinos, Ji-Man Choi, Francisco Mejia, Luis Patino, Colin Poche, Roman Quinn, Luke Raley, Ryan Yarbrough
Armstrong’s track record is too spotty to justify his arb salary. Chirinos has pitched all of 18 innings in the last three years. Mejia is getting too expensive to be the backup catcher he now clearly is. Patino is a mess, and has just burned through his last option. Tampa is not going to pay Yarbrough $4.2M to throw 87. Choi’s value has gone negative. His time with Tampa is over.
Reds: Jose Barrero, Luis Cessa, Buck Farmer, Kyle Farmer, Jeff Hoffman, Nick Senzel
Barrero is another failed prospect who has put up -1.6 fWAR for his career, and has burned his last option. Senzel is now clearly a bust as well. Kyle Farmer, god love him, is due to make $5.9M. He’s a journeyman, folks. Nobody’s going to pay him that.
Red Sox: Ryan Brasier, Franchy Cordero, Tyler Danish, Darwinzon Hernandez
Wait, wasn’t Brasier good this year? A little. But his WPA was -1.49, and that’s not good. The Sox can find better production at a cheaper cost. Hopes were once high for Darwinzon, but he’s been a mess for the last three years.
Rockies: Garrett Hampson, Sam Hilliard, Dinelson Lamet, Dom Nunez
Wait, wasn’t Lamet good again too? That was a blip, folks. He put up 0.2 fWAR, has nagging arm issues, and is due to make $4.8M. Not gonna happen. Then again, it’s the Rockies, so they may just keep all these guys.
Royals: Carlos Hernandez, Brad Keller, Anthony Misiewicz, Ryan O’Hearn, Luke Weaver
Keller’s smoke-and-mirrors act can only go so far, apparently, as he put up a replacement-level year and is now owed $7M. The new baseball ops guy is too smart for that. Time to cut the other chaff, too.
Tigers: Harold Castro, Jose Cisnero, Miguel Diaz, Rony Garcia, Bryan Garcia, Austin Meadows, Victor Reyes
I suspect it was the Meadows trade that was the final nail in the coffin for former GM Al Avila. Meadows delivered -0.2 fWAR and is now due $4M. Time to cut bait here, too.
Twins: Kyle Garlick, Emilio Pagan
Pagan hasn’t been good since 2019. Why the Twins traded for him is beyond me – he was on this list last year, and they then paid him $2.3M to deliver another negative-WAR season. His WPA was also deeply in the red. They’re certainly not going to give him a raise to $3.7M now.
White Sox: Kyle Crick, Adam Engel, Adam Haseley, Danny Mendick, Mark Payton, Jose Ruiz
Longtime defensive replacement Engel was paid $2M to deliver a negative-WAR year, and is now due for a raise. He gone.
Yankees: Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Tim Locastro, Lou Trivino
The fact that the Yankees benched IKF for a rookie in a do-or-die playoff game is a clear sign that the team is done with him. He’s a replacement-level player due to make $6.5M, and that’s too rich even for the Yanks. Trivino is serviceable yet inconsistent, and is now due $4.2M. On paper, that’s an overpay, but they may have to bite the bullet to keep some semblance of their bullpen intact.
Other borderline cases
There are a few other players we could add to this list, who have very small surplus-value numbers. These include:
- Miguel Aguilar, Diamondbacks
- Jorge Alcala, Twins
- Tyler Alexander, Tigers
- Aristides Aquino, Reds
- Victor Arano, Nationals
- Steven Brault, Cubs
- Genesis Cabrera, Cardinals
- Jeimer Candelario, Tigers
- Victor Caratini, Brewers
- Amir Garrett, Royals
- Tyler Matzek, Braves
- Tim Mayza, Blue Jays
- Gio Urshela, Twins
- Austin Voth, Orioles
- Lamonte Wade, Giants
- Brad Wieck, Cubs
Don’t be surprised if your team non-tenders any of the above.