After a disappointing end to their 2022 season, the Los Angeles Dodgers started looking ahead to 2023 far sooner than they expected with an interesting offseason set to take place over the next few months.
The Dodgers only have seven players with a contract in place for the 2023 season while they have 10 players entering free agency at the end of the World Series. They also must decide whether to exercise or decline the club options of four players for the 2023 season.
In addition, the Dodgers have 12 players under team control who are set to go through salary arbitration.
Players who have three or more years of Major League service but less than six years become eligible for salary arbitration if they do not already have a contract for the next season.
If the team and player have not agreed on a salary by a deadline, which is typically in mid-January, the club and player exchange salary figures for the upcoming season. After the figures are exchanged, a hearing is scheduled and typically held in February.
If no settlement can be reached by the hearing date, the case is brought before a panel of arbitrators. After hearing arguments from both sides, the panel selects either the salary figure of either the player or the club, but not one in between, as the player’s salary for the upcoming season.
The week prior to the exchange of arbitration figures is when the vast majority of arbitration cases are avoided, either by agreeing to a one- or multi-year contract.
Once a player becomes eligible for salary arbitration, he is eligible each offseason, assuming he is tendered a contract, until he reaches six years of Major League service when he becomes eligible for free agency.
If a player is non-tendered, they immediately become a free agent. A player’s salary can also be reduced by up to 20% through the arbitration process, but typically the majority of players receive a raise.
Dodgers eligible for salary arbitration
Yency Almonte is arbitration eligible for the first time in his career following a breakout season, which gives the Dodgers three more seasons of control.
The 28-year-old posted a 1.02 ERA across 35.1 innings while becoming a high-leverage option for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
Cody Bellinger is entering his final year of arbitration, which means he can become a free agent following the end of the 2023 season. After a poor 2021 and 2022, Bellinger is a candidate to be non-tendered.
If Bellinger is non-tendered, he would become a free agent this winter. However, the Dodgers could still choose to re-sign him at a more team-friendly deal than the arbitration process would allow for.
The 27-year-old batted .210/.265/.389 with an 83 wRC+ during the 2022 season but continued to play defense at a high level.
Although Walker Buehler is likely to miss the 2023 season following Tommy John Surgery, the Dodgers will still need to pay to keep him under contract as he enters his second year of arbitration.
The 28-year-old only pitched 65 innings during the 2022 season while posting a 4.02 ERA.
Caleb Ferguson enters his second year of arbitration, but due to his recent injuries, he isn’t projected to see a significant raise.
The 26-year-old missed the entire 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery, and this year threw only 34.2 innings, but he did post an impressive 1.82 ERA.
Tony Gonsolin enters his first year of arbitration as one of the Dodgers who qualified for Super Two. After a strong 2022 campaign, Gonsolin could push for a substantial salary increase, but the first year of negotiations never yields player-friendly numbers.
The 28-year-old pitched to a 2.14 ERA in 130.1 innings while earning a trip to his first career All-Star Game and becoming a key member of the Dodgers rotation.
Like Gonsolin, Brusdar Graterol is going through the arbitration process as a Super Two player.
The 24-year-old pitched 49.2 innings with a 3.26 ERA but missed some time due to an injury during the season.
Dustin May is eligible for arbitration for the first time as well.
The 25-year-old only pitched 30 innings after returning from Tommy John surgery and had mixed results, leading to a 4.50 ERA. If he can return to close to his 2021 form, May would be in line for a significant salary jump next season.
Like many of the Dodgers’ top relievers, Evan Phillips is entering his first season of arbitration and does so as a Super Two player.
The 28-year-old was among the best relief pitchers in baseball during the 2022 season and earned the nickname “High Leverage Honey Bun” for his performance. Phillips posted a 1.14 ERA in 63 innings.
Edwin Ríos is eligible for arbitration for the first time.
The 28-year-old was effective when with the club, hitting .244/.293/.500 with a 120 wRC+, but he was limited by a hamstring strain and ended the season with Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Will Smith is projected to earn the largest salary among the Dodgers’ first-year arbitration-eligible players at $5.2 million thanks to his combination of production and service time.
The 27-year-old hit .260/.343/.465 with a 127 wRC+, which places him among the elite offensive catchers in baseball as he eventually became the team’s cleanup hitter.
Although Trayce Thompson has been around for a while, he is just now entering his first year of arbitration, which gives the Dodgers three more years of team control.
After being designated for assignment by the San Diego Padres and traded by the Detroit Tigers for cash considerations, Thompson produced for the Dodgers, hitting .256/.353/.507 with a 142 wRC+.
Like Bellinger, Julio Urías is entering his final year under team control. Although the Dodgers would likely be open to discussing an extension, Urías’ agent is Scott Boras, who is notorious for making his clients test the free agent market.
The 26-year-old took over as Dodgers ace this season, posting a 2.16 ERA in 175 innings and earning the start in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
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