Tomorrow’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: the non-tender deadline. In case the sarcasm didn’t come through: this offseason has been so slow and boring that the best we can look forward to is a day when teams cut ties with a bunch of players. To be specific, all players must be tendered a contract for 2021 by 8pm eastern tomorrow if they have not received one yet. This really just affects the arbitration eligible players set to receive substantial raises, though pre-arbitration (i.e. near league minimum) players must receive offers too.
Now, this year will be a little different than usual. Teams are more cost-conscious after a shortened and fanless season, so there’s an expectation that a bunch of players will hit the open market. There have even been rumors that stars like Kris Bryant could non-tendered, though that would really shock me. Still, there will be better players than usual added to this winter’s free agent crop.
As for the Yankees, the front office has decisions to make on eleven arbitration eligible players. I’ve grouped them into three categories: keepers, questionable, and doubtful in terms of the likelihood the Yankees tender them contracts. After that, I’ve added a poll question for you to pick who you’d non-tender. Let’s get to it.
Clint Frazier, Chad Green, Aaron Judge, Jordan Montgomery, Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, and Luke Voit aren’t going anywhere. All will play important roles on the 2021 squad. The projected arbitration salaries are bargains for this group. There’s really nothing more to add here.
I’ll get to the big name here in a moment, but first, there are two bullpen arms that fall into this group: Luis Cessa and Jonathan Holder. Neither are slated to be big earners via arbitration, but at the same time, pitchers like Nick Nelson and Brooks Kriske are probably adequate replacements at the league minimum. Meanwhile, Cessa and Holder could combine for roughly $2 million next season.
Now, the elephant in the room. A whole lot of folks would be ecstatic to see Gary Sánchez cut loose tomorrow. Don’t count on that, however. Even though there’s been some hemming and hawing about the likelihood of his departure, Aaron Boone just staunchly defended him last week.
There’s no question that the catcher was dreadful this season (.147/.253/.365, 69 wRC+), but catchers aren’t exactly fungible. Sure, the Yankees have been connected to Yadier Molina and James McCann in recent days and weeks, but are we so sure those are upgrades? Particularly after cutting bait on Gary for nothing? I’m not confident that’s the right move. It’s one thing to add another catcher to challenge him, but to outright replace him with anyone not named JT Realmuto? Bad idea.
He’s not set to make much, but Ben Heller is the most likely goner tomorrow. He ended the season on the injured list with a right biceps nerve injury and has been hurt quite often over the years. His arbitration projection isn’t much ($700-$800k), but the Yankees could probably retain him on a minor league deal instead.
Please take a moment to pick the players you’d non-tender below. Against my better judgement, I’m including every arbitration eligible player for the sake of completeness. Looking forward to seeing who gets a kick out of non-tendering Judge, I guess.