The Dodgers signed left-handed reliever Scott Alexander to a one-year contract on Wednesday, avoiding salary arbitration, per multiple reports. The news was first reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Alexander will get $1 million in 2021, which is fully guaranteed, per both Buster Olney of ESPN and Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times. Had he gone through the arbitration process, his salary would not have been guaranteed.
The impetus for Alexander’s contract, and various others throughout the sport, is Wednesday’s deadline to tender contracts to players on the 40-man roster. For players eligible for salary arbitration who might otherwise earn less on the open market, or are on the fringes of the roster, this deadline ends up being a chance for players to agree to deals in lieu of joining an otherwise flooded, and potentially stagnant free agent market.
The Dodgers struck deals at last year’s tender deadline with Alexander and Austin Barnes, and did the same with reliever Tony Cingrani in 2018. In 2017, reliever Yimi Garcia was inked at the tender deadline, and the year before outfielder Scott Van Slyke and relief pitcher Chris Hatcher were signed. These type of deals happen every year.
For what it’s worth, Matt Swartz at MLB Trade Rumors used three different projection models for salary arbitration after such an odd, truncated season. His three 2021 projections for Alexander were $1 million, $1 million, and $1.2 million.
Alexander made the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster in 2020, and posted a 2.92 ERA and 6.03 FIP in 12⅔ innings, though with as many walks (nine) as strikeouts (nine). Alexander stranded five of his six inherited runners
The left-hander appeared to be impacted by the new three-batter minimum rule for relievers. Alexander held left-handed batters to just 1-for-18 (.449 OPS) with a 22.7-percent strikeout rate, but right-handers were 8-for-24 (.907 OPS) with a 13.3-percent strikeout rate against him.
Alexander was optioned on September 2 to the alternate training site at USC, where he spent nearly all of the final four weeks of the regular season. He was not on the Dodgers roster in any of their four postseason series.
In three seasons with the Dodgers, Alexander has a 3.57 ERA (112 ERA+) and 4.16 FIP in 95⅔ innings. His 69-percent ground ball rate during that time ranks second among the 403 major league pitchers with at least 90 innings, trailing only Zach Britton. Alexander’s ground ball rate in 2020 was 72.7 percent.
Alexander having an option year remaining gives the Dodgers some flexibility. He used options in 2016 and 2020. The left-hander was also optioned in 2017 and 2018, but didn’t reach the required 20 days in either season to exhaust an option year.
With Alexander signed, the Dodgers have six players eligible for salary arbitration this winter: Corey Seager, Barnes, Cody Bellinger, Julio Urías, Dylan Floro, and Walker Buehler.