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Dodgers exchange salary arbitration figures with Walker Buehler, Austin Barnes

The Dodgers signed five players, but could have arbitration hearings pending for two players.

MLB: JUL 03 Diamondbacks at Dodgers Photo by Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Dodgers came to agreements with five of their seven players eligible for arbitration before Friday’s deadline to exchange salaries, but cases for pitcher Walker Buehler and catcher Austin Barnes remain pending.

Buehler, eligible for salary arbitration as a Super Two, among the top 22 percent of players with at least two years but not yet three years of service time, filed at $4.15 million, per multiple reports, while the Dodgers filed at $3.3 million.

Barnes filed at $2 million, while the Dodgers filed at $1.5 million.

Buehler had a late start to his 2020 season after slowing his throwing program during the uncertainty of the three-month pandemic shutdown, then battled blisters during the season. But he was still quite effective while on the mound.

Counting the regular season and postseason, Buehler posted a 2.77 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 23 walks in 61⅔ innings. The Dodgers won 11 of his 13 starts.

Buehler, now 26, made $603,500 last season. Or at least he would have, over a full year. With the season shortened to 60 games, Buehler’s salary was pro-rated to $223,519.

Given the truncated season, Matt Swartz used three different models for his MLB Trade Rumors arbitration projections, with his range for Buehler between $2.3 million and $3.1 million. My guess for Buehler’s 2021 salary was $3.5 million.

Barnes had a bounce-back season in the truncated 2020, hitting .244/.353/.314 in 29 games, his 94 wRC+ his best in three years. Combined with his elite framing skills, Barnes earned more playing time in October, starting eight of the Dodgers’ 18 postseason games, hitting .320/.393/.440.

WIth four years, 98 days of service time, Barnes is arbitration-eligible for the second time, having a $1.1 million salary in 2020. His projections for this season at MLB Trade Rumors ranged between $1.3 million and $1.7 million.

Dodgers salary exchange figures

Player Service time Team number Player number Midpoint
Player Service time Team number Player number Midpoint
Austin Barnes 4.098 $1,500,000 $2,000,000 $1,750,000
Walker Buehler 2.168 $3,300,000 $4,150,000 $3,725,000

If the Dodgers and Buehler and/or Barnes don’t agree to a contract, they will have an arbitration hearing at some point in February. Last year, the Dodgers exchanged numbers with four players, ultimately signing Max Muncy and Chris Taylor to multi-year contracts, and going to a hearing with Joc Pederson and Pedro Baez.

In the first six offseasons under Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers have not signed any arbitration-eligible players to one-year contracts after the exchange deadline.

This year Dodgers avoided arbitration with five players over the last two days, before Friday morning’s deadline, in addition to signing left-hander Scott Alexander for $1 million back in December. The players who signed this week:

The team officially announced one-year deals for Bellinger, Seager, Urías, and Floro on Friday, but have not yet announced the Knebel deal.

The Dodgers have 16 players under contract for a total of $178 million for 2021. Adding in estimates for filling out the major league roster (including the midpoint for both Buehler and Barnes), minor league players on the 40-man roster, and benefits, the Dodgers payroll for competitive balance tax purposes is roughly $205 million at the moment. Should the Dodgers exceed the $210 million threshold for 2020, they would pay 20 percent on the first $20 million over, with accelerated tax rates for higher payroll amounts.