Last night at midnight was the deadline for teams to offer (“tender”) contracts for the 2014 season to players on their 40-man roster.
Certain players, like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and even Logan Ondrusek, have already signed contracts that cover 2014.
Other players, like Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco, are team-controlled and not yet eligible for arbitration. Since the club alone determines the salary for players in that category, they are generally paid the league minimum, roughly $500,000.
The final group of players — those who are arbitration eligible — often present the most difficult choices for the club. Those players have accumulated at least three seasons of major league playing time and because of that service time, they’ve qualified for having their salaries determined not solely by the club, but instead by a neutral arbitrator. The average player spends their six years of team control in three years of pre-arbitration status and then three years with arbitration.
This winter Reds had easy decisions on several arbitration-eligible players: Homer Bailey, Aroldis Chapman, Mike Leake, Sam Lecure, Alfredo Simon and Ryan Hanigan. Chris Heisey is probably safe, but no sure thing. We should know about him shortly.
We’ve learned from Mark Sheldon this morning that the Reds have declined to offer contracts to outfielders Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson. That means those players are now free agents and have to look for jobs with other teams.
The non-tender decision on Robinson comes as no surprise, as he was designated for assignment (released, basically) last week to make room for Skip Schumaker on the Reds’ 40-man roster. The decision to non-tender Paul likely indicates that Schumaker, for now, will fill the role of a left-handed outfield bat, not utility infielder. That makes sense considering he only plays second base in the infield, but played all three OF positions for the Dodgers last year.
General Manager Walt Jocketty has a long way to go in finalizing the Reds’ roster heading to Goodyear for Spring Training, so if you’re penciling players into certain slots right now, keep a sturdy eraser nearby.
It’s hard to see the club keeping three catchers on the 40-man list for much longer. I’m hearing a rumor (friend of a friend, so not terribly reliable yet) that Ryan Hanigan is headed to Tampa Bay. That sounds promising as the Rays have a large supply of young pitching talent just below the major league level.
UPDATE: Various sources (Ken Rosenthal, Buster Olney etc.) now reporting that Ryan Hanigan has been traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. Possible three-way deal. Stay tuned for details.