It is apparently never too early to discuss salary arbitration, with MLB Trade Rumors releasing on Tuesday their 2016 arbitration projections.
This affects the Dodgers more than most, as their 11 arbitration-eligible players are tied with the Rays and the Mets for fifth-most in baseball, behind only the Athletics (15), Rangers (13), Pirates (12) and Marlins (12).
This will change of course, as it's unlikely all 11 players will be back, but first here is an overview of the process.
The deadline to tender a 2016 contract to arbitration-eligible players is Wednesday, Dec. 2, though some could be let go even before then. Last year, for instance, both Roger Bernadina and Scott Elbert were arb-eligible, but were designated for assignment in October and both left in free agency.
That Dec. 2 deadline can be used as a soft deadline of sorts, with some players reaching deals with a threat of getting non-tendered (and presumably earning less in free agency) an impetus for a deal. Last year the Dodgers signed Darwin Barney at the tender deadline.
If player and club can't reach agreement on a deal, the deadline to file for salary arbitration is Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, with each side submitting one salary figure on Friday, Jan. 15. This again is when most deals are struck. Andrew Friedman when he was general manager of the Rays used a "file and go" strategy, with no more negotiations after the filing date, going to a hearing if unable to reach a deal. Friedman wouldn't say if that was also his strategy with the Dodgers, but all arbitration-eligible players signed by the filing date in 2015.
Negotiation after the filing and exchange date is allowed and encouraged, with the system designed to bring both sides together toward the middle. Should player and team not come to terms, a hearing will be scheduled between Feb. 1-20, with both sides presenting their case to a three-person panel. The arb panel will choose one side or the other in the hearing.
The last arbitration hearing for the Dodgers was with relief pitcher Joe Beimel in 2007.
We will dig deeper into each specific arbitration case in January, but for now here are the projections from MLB Trade Rumors, which uses Matt Swartz's prediction model. The projected cutoff for Super Two players - the top 22 percent in service time for players between two and three years - is two years, 130 days. Scott Van Slyke and Chris Hatcher qualify among Dodgers.
- A.J. Ellis (5.151; meaning five years, 151 days of service time): $4.5 million
- Kenley Jansen (5.073): $11.4 million
- Justin Turner (5.045): $5.3 million
- Chris Heisey (5.042): $2.2 million
- Justin Ruggiano (4.123): $2.8 million
- Juan Nicasio (4.084): $3.1 million
- Yasmani Grandal (3.151): $2.7 million
- Luis Avilan (3.077): $1.1 million
- Joe Wieland (3.027): $508,000*
- Scott Van Slyke (2.151): $1.2 million
- Chris Hatcher (2.146): $900,000
*MLB Trade Rumors uses $508,000 as an estimate for the minimum salary. The current minimum salary is $507,500, and the 2016 number will be determined in November based on the Consumer Price Index.
The Dodgers in 2016 have just over $158 million committed to 11 players (including Zack Greinke, who can opt out into free agency within three days after the World Series ends), including two players (Erisbel Arruebarrena and Jose Tabata) off the 40-man roster, plus an option buyout of Bronson Arroyo, a payment to San Diego for Matt Kemp, and cash from the Marlins for Michael Morse.