Tony Gonsolin is coming off a career year, albeit one that was cut short by a forearm strain that wiped out his September. He’s set to cash in this offseason, eligible for salary arbitration for the first time.
With two years, 152 days of major league service time, Gonsolin is eligible for arbitration as a Super Two player, among the top 22 percent of players with at least two years but not yet three years of service time.
Gonsolin was 16-1 with a 2.14 ERA, 3.12 xERA, and 3.28 FIP in 24 starts for the Dodgers last season, making his first All-Star team. Compared to other Super Two pitchers over the previous four years, Gonsolin’s launch year sets him apart among the pack.
Comparable Super Two pitchers to Tony Gonsolin
|Max Fried||2021||2.148||56.0||7-0||50||2.25||208||3.10||2.9||1.5||$3.5 million|
|Sean Manaea||2019||2.157||160.7||12-9||108||3.59||116||4.26||2.9||1.8||$3.15 million|
|Framber Valdez||2022||2.163||134.7||11-6||125||3.14||137||4.01||2.5||1.9||$3 million|
|Kyle Freeland||2020||2.144||104.3||3-11||79||6.73||77||5.99||-1.1||0.1||$2.875 million|
|Michael Fulmer||2019||2.157||132.3||3-12||110||4.69||96||4.52||1.3||1.5||$2.8 million|
|Cal Quantrill||2022||2.132||149.7||8-3||121||2.89||149||4.07||3.9||2.0||$2.51 million|
|Tyler Glasnow||2020||2.158||60.7||6-1||76||1.78||248||2.26||2.5||2.3||$2.05 million|
Even with getting sidelined for six weeks, Gonsolin’s innings total is right in line with most of that group, and his performance is the best of the lot, save for maybe Max Fried. The Braves’ left-hander had his launch year in the truncated 60-game 2020 season, which makes true comparisons difficult.
Fried’s 2020 extrapolated over a full season is even better, but then again through 60 Dodgers games in 2022, Gonsolin’s numbers (7-0, 1.58 ERA, 57 innings, 54 strikeouts) extrapolated over a full season were also incredible. But things don’t always work out how you might expect.
Gonsolin’s career numbers also include the truncated 2020 campaign, which helps equalize things a bit when comparing him to Fried.
Comparable Super Two pitchers to Tony Gonsolin — career
|Max Fried||2021||2.148||281.3||26-11||289||3.52||129||3.69||6.8||5.1||$3.5 million|
|Sean Manaea||2019||2.157||464.0||31-28||372||3.94||105||4.15||7.4||6.0||$3.15 million|
|Framber Valdez||2022||2.163||313.0||24-17||303||3.74||118||4.04||4.0||4.0||$3 million|
|Kyle Freeland||2020||2.144||462.7||31-29||359||4.14||119||4.50||10.0||6.2||$2.875 million|
|Michael Fulmer||2019||2.157||456.0||24-31||356||3.81||116||3.95||10.7||8.2||$2.8 million|
|Cal Quantrill||2022||2.132||284.7||16-11||241||3.64||117||4.13||5.0||3.6||$2.51 million|
|Tyler Glasnow||2020||2.158||257.7||10-17||292||4.51||93||4.17||1.4||2.8||$2.05 million|
At the same point in their careers, Gonsolin and Fried are separated by under nine innings, and both have 26 wins. Fried has a little more strikeouts, but Gonsolin has a bigger edge in ERA. They are close in FIP, but Gonsolin has the slight edge there too. He also has a higher career WAR at this point than Fried, using both Baseball Reference and FanGraphs versions.
Fried’s $3.5 million is the number to shoot for here, and it’s exactly the salary projected by MLB Trade Rumors for Gonsolin back in October.
Gonsolin in 2022 made $720,000 in salary, and also earned over $500,000 as part of the new pre-arbitration bonus pool thanks to his strong season.
After the 2020 season, Walker Buehler was a Super Two and eligible for salary arbitration for the first time, giving us an in-house comp for Gonsolin.
Tony Gonsolin & Walker Buehler as a Super Two
|Walker Buehler||2021||2.168||365.7||24-9||420||3.15||129||3.23||6.0||8.7||$3.75 million*|
Buehler has the advantage in bulk numbers, also had one All-Star appearance to that point, and received down-ballot Cy Young votes in 2019. Buehler also was an established ace by then, with four Game 1 starts (plus a dominant Game 163) and a 2.35 ERA in 11 postseason starts. Gonsolin to date has struggled mightily in the postseason, allowing 15 runs in 14⅔ innings.
The Dodgers exchanged salary figures with Buehler that winter, with Buehler seeking $4.25 million and the team offering $3.3 million, with a midpoint of $3.725 million. They later avoided an arbitration hearing with a two-year, $8-million contract that paid Buehler a total of $3.75 million in 2021, including half of his signing bonus. The deal also had escalators that bumped Buehler’s 2022 salary from $3.25 million to $6.25 million, in addition to the remaining $1 million of his signing bonus paid last year.
It’s fair to view Buehler as sort of an upper limit of what Gonsolin might expect as a Super Two pitcher in his first time through arbitration. But adding an inflation bump from two years ago, I’m comfortable with slotting in Gonsolin at $3.7 million for 2023, a little more than Fried, and slightly less than Buehler.