The Los Angeles Dodgers found themselves looking ahead to the 2024 season earlier than planned, and with a hefty offseason to-do list, they’ll have a fascinating time putting together their next roster.
The Dodgers have just six players officially under contract heading into 2024, with 12 players set to become free agents following the conclusion of the World Series. That number could increase depending on option and tender decisions by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and the front office.
Additionally, the Dodgers had 13 players under team control by way of salary arbitration. However, that number was reduced by one when Wander Suero elected to become a Minor League free agent.
Players who have three or more years of Major League service time but less than six seasons become eligible for salary arbitration if a contract agreement isn’t reached for the upcoming season.
Teams and players have a deadline to agree on a salary figure, which usually is set for mid-January. The club and player exchange salary figures for the following year. Once that process is complete, a hearing is scheduled and typically held in February.
If the two parties are unable to reach a one-year or multi-year agreement by the hearing date, the case is heard before a panel of arbitrators. Teams and players argue their stances to the panel, which then selects a salary figure of either the player or the club.
Most cases are resolved in the week prior to the arbitration hearing. A player’s salary can be reduced by a maximum of 20%, but most players receive a raise when eligible for arbitration.
Once a player has logged six years of Major League service, that player is eligible for free agency and no longer qualifies for salary arbitration.
Dodgers eligible for salary arbitration
After becoming one of the staple arms for the Dodgers in 2022, Yency Almonte suffered a run of poor performance, eventually landing on the injured list for a right knee sprain in early August. He’s heading into a second year of arbitration with a projected $1.9 million salary.
The right-hander posted a 5.06 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, and 49 strikeouts across 49 appearances (48 innings pitched) this year.
Walker Buehler nearly made a return to the Dodgers roster at the end of their regular season, but after a rehab start in Triple-A Oklahoma City, a decision was made to look ahead to 2024.
With his most recent game action coming in 2022, Buehler missed the entire 2023 season recovering from a second Tommy John surgery. Buehler figures to become a key piece to the Dodgers starting rotation as he enters his final year of arbitration.
Caleb Ferguson enters his final year of arbitration, with a projected bump to $2.3 million for the 2024 campaign.
The left-hander was given a crack as a late-inning reliever at various parts of the 2023 season, but spotty performance relegated him to a multi-inning, opener type role out of the Dodgers bullpen. Although Ferguson’s 3.43 ERA, 3.34 FIP, and strikeout numbers look solid, he allowed a .268 batting average against with a 39.1% hard-hit rate.
The 30-year-old spent the entire 2023 season recovering from right rotator cuff and labrum surgery, never making significant progress towards being a contributing factor on the active roster.
J.P. Feyereisen enters his first year of arbitration, projected to earn $1 million for the upcoming season, as the Dodgers figure to keep playing the long game with the veteran.
Victor González enters his 11th season in the Dodgers organization, and his first year of arbitration. The left-hander shuffled between the Major League roster and Oklahoma City a handful of times in 2023.
Previously having not pitched in MLB since 2021, González logged 33.2 innings this year, to the tune of a 4.01 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and a .223 batting average allowed.
Brusdar Graterol elevated his play in 2023, becoming one of the Dodgers most relied-upon relief pitchers. He’s set to potentially earn a 50% raise with a projected salary of $2.5 million in 2024.
Graterol posted a 1.20 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, with .221 batting average allowed across 67.1 innings pitched (68 games).
The promising infielder missed the entire 2023 regular season after suffering a torn ACL and LCL early in Spring Training.
Gavin Lux was on course to receive significant playing time prior to the injury, and if all goes according to plan with his rehab, he’ll be in line to pickup where he left off.
Dustin May last pitched on May 17, eventually requiring season-ending elbow surgery. He needed a repair of his right flexor tendon in addition to an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction revision.
May went 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA, 3.27 FIP and 0.94 WHIP in nine starts this year as he heads into his second year of arbitration.
The Dodgers closer is slated to earn a significant raise, continuing his very trustworthy role as manager Dave Roberts’ backend arm.
Evan Phillips carried a 2.05 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 0.83 WHIP throughout the season, tallying 24 saves in his 61.1 innings pitched.
Will Smith wrapped up his fourth season as the Dodgers full-time catcher, posting a .797 on-base plus slugging percentage with 19 home runs, 76 RBI and 80 runs scored.
He’s projected to earn a fairly large bump in salary from $5.25 million in 2023, to $9.3 million next year.
The 27-year-old had a rough season following his peak performance in 2022. Alex Vesia dealt with wild inconsistencies this past year, losing a hold of the high-leverage spot he once had.
Vesia spent a solid chunk in Triple-A, and found his way back to stay on the big league roster following an early July call-up.
Ryan Yarbrough was one of the Dodgers’ trade deadline acquisitions, serving his purpose as a bulk arm, and had some spot success. His soft-tossing arsenal wasn’t enough to make the postseason roster, and his lack of upside makes him one of the lone non-tender candidates on the roster.
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