Dodgers Rumors: Walker Buehler Contract Includes Incentives, Signing Bonus

Prior to the January deadline, the Los Angeles Dodgers were able to avoid arbitration with most of their eligible players in Cody Bellinger, Dylan Floro, Corey Knebel, Corey Seager and Julio Urias. Those that remained in limbo, however, were Austin Barnes and Walker Buehler.

Players and teams that failed to come to terms were permitted to continue negotiating before arbitration hearings this month. Both Barnes and Buehler reportedly planned to go through with respective cases unless a multi-year contract extension could be reached.

Shortly after agreeing to terms with top free-agent starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, the Dodgers and Buehler avoided arbitration. Because the right-hander qualified as a Super Two player, he still has two arbitration-eligible years remaining in 2023 and 2024 before becoming a free agent.

According to the Associated Press, Buehler’s two-year contract with the Dodgers includes a signing bonus and performance incentives:

Buehler gets a $2 million signing bonus, half payable on March 1 and half next Jan. 15, and salaries of $2.75 million this year and $3.25 million in 2022. His 2022 salary can increase by $3 million to $6.25 million based on starts: by $500,000 each for 14, 16, 18, 20, 24 and 28. Buehler’s 2022 salary would increase by $1,125,000 if he wins the 2021 Cy Young Award or by $625,000 if he is second or third in the 2021 Cy Young voting.

Over the past two full MLB seasons, Buehler averaged 27 starts, making a career-high 30 in 2019. If he’s able to reach that mark this year, an additional $3 million will be tacked on to his $2.75 base salary.

Moreover, Buehler can earn another $625,000-$1.125 million based on where he finishes in National League Cy Young Award voting. His best finish was ninth in 2019, but it is very possible he will crack the top 3 at some point in the next two years.

Buehler is coming off a solid 2020 season despite being somewhat limited by blister issues. In eight regular-season starts, he went 1-0 with a 3.44 ERA, 4.36 FIP, 0.96 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 36.2 innings.

Buehler lived up to his reputation as being one of baseball’s best big-game pitchers, going 2-0 in the postseason with a 1.80 ERA and 39 strikeouts across 25 innings (five starts).

The 26-year-old was particularly effective from the National League Championship Series through the World Series, allowing a combined two earned runs and striking out 26 batters in 17 innings over three starts.

Included in that was a heroic effort against the Atlanta Braves in Game 6 of the NLCS to help keep the Dodgers alive.

Barnes resolution coming soon

With pitchers and catchers due to arrive at Camelback Ranch next week, a resolution on Barnes could come any day now. Like Buehler, he is seeking a multi-year extension, but it remains to be seen if one will be worked out before the start of Spring Training.

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