Major League Baseball's tender deadline passed on Wednesday night. For those who are unaware, that's significant because it represents the point in time when teams have to decide if they're going to tender contracts to their players who are in either the arbitration or pre-arbitration phases of their careers. The players who don't receive an offer are freed from their obligations and become immediate free agents, oftentimes years ahead of schedule.
Last winter's non-tender class included several players who went on to have productive seasons elsewhere -- like Taijuan Walker, Cesar Hernandez, Kevin Gausman, and Blake Treinen. Can this year's class match up, and who might the standouts be? Below, we've highlighted 10 notable non-tendered players who we believe merit a closer look. (Note that the players are listed in order of their perceived intrigue.)
For more MLB Hot Stove talk, check out Fantasy Baseball Today, where the crew breaks down the best destinations for the top free agents.
Be warned, there's a certain player type who dominates this list: sluggers who offer little in terms of defensive value. Count Kyle Schwarber (projected to clear $7 million in arb) among the group. He's not a good left fielder, and this season he wasn't a good hitter, either. Schwarber still made loud contact, but he altered his launch angle so that more of it was on the ground -- to the extent that 51 percent of his batted balls ate dirt, as opposed to his previous high of 46 percent. Schwarber still has a disciplined approach and it's clear that he's retained his potent slugging ability. He should spend next season as someone's most-days DH, and he could prove to be a value if he can get back to walking and bopping, as opposed to walking and grounding out.
Eddie Rosario was projected to make more than $9 million through his final year of arbitration. The Twins, who have a number of young outfielders on the rise, decided they could use that money in a more optimal fashion elsewhere on their roster. Fair enough. Rosario has hit .278/.312/.488 (112 OPS+) with 23 home runs on average since the start of the 2018 season. He isn't much of a defender, and he doesn't hit the ball as hard as his power numbers indicate (his average exit velocity in 2020 was in the 28th percentile), but he should appeal to teams who are willing and able to trade on-base percentage for some additional slugging.
Archie Bradley just had one of the best seasons of his career if you judge such things by looking at either his ERA+ (163) or his strikeout-to-walk ratio (6.00). The Reds, who acquired him at the deadline from the Diamondbacks, didn't think he was worth a nearly $5 million investment. He has ample experience in high-leverage roles and should be a popular target among contenders.
Hitters don't often improve upon leaving Coors Field, and that's a scary thought for anyone interested in adding David Dahl. To be certain, he has his charms. His career numbers indicate that he's been an above-average hitter, even when adjusting for park effects. He's also a fair bet to be effective against right-handed pitching. Otherwise? Dahl doesn't hit the ball that hard; he doesn't walk frequently (though he does strike out a lot); and he's not a standout defender or baserunner. Factor in his durability issues -- which bear mentioning even though they aren't his fault -- and you can understand why the Rockies felt it was time to move on.
Schwarber was the No. 4 pick in the 2014 draft. The No. 3 pick that year, Carlos Rodon, was also non-tendered on Wednesday after he was limited by injury to fewer than 50 innings over the last two seasons. At his peak, he paired a mid-90s fastball with a nasty slider and some serious command woes. He's since lost some velocity, which calls his viability as a starter into question. Some team will probably give him a look there next season, but don't be surprised if his long-term home is in relief.
Adam Duvall qualifies as one of the more surprising non-tenders. In 98 games over the last two seasons, he'd homered 26 times and posted a .248/.307/.545 (114 OPS+) slash line. The Braves evidently weren't comfortable reserving more than $4 million for him without knowing if the universal DH is here to stay. Duvall should have a fair amount of suitors: he has more defensive value than many of the names here, and he offers an additional year of team control, meaning whoever signs him this go around would have the honor of non-tendering him next winter.
Ryne Stanek was one of the progenitors of the "opener" concept, and was later moved to the Marlins as part of Tampa Bay's acquisition of Nick Anderson. He's since fallen from the wayside because of injury and command woes that saw him issue 27 free passes in 31 innings with Miami. Stanek still throws hard and misses bats; he also offers three more seasons of team control. Some team, then, could get a long-term fix in the bullpen with a little coaching-up.
Nomar Mazara is looking for his third team in a year's time. The White Sox acquired him from the Rangers last winter (in exchange for a decent outfield prospect) with the hope they could unlock his middle-of-the-order upside. That didn't happen. Instead, Mazara had the worst offensive season of his career. The White Sox elected against bringing him back for around $6 million, and it's hard to blame them. Mazara doesn't walk and he isn't much of a defender or baserunner. He does hit the ball hard, but at a suboptimal angle. Expect a team seeking cheap upside to chase after Mazara with the belief that they're the ones who can "fix" him.
You have to feel for Maikel Franco, who was non-tendered for a second winter in a row despite hitting .278/.321/.457 (109 OPS+) with eight homers in 60 games. (The Royals evidently favored Kelvin Gutierrez.) Franco is a below-average athlete who doesn't play a graceful third base and who won't contribute on the basepaths. At the dish, he's more than capable of putting a charge into the ball … he's just prone to fluctuation because his swing-happy approach limits his on-base ability and results in a lot of weak contact (especially of the pop-up variety). Franco figures to land with a team seeking right-handed thunder from a corner-infield position.
Delino DeShields Jr., who came to Cleveland as part of the Corey Kluber trade, will be departing after appearing in just 37 games. He's never been much of a hitter -- his only season with an OPS+ north of 90 was 2015 -- but he's a fast runner and an above-average outfielder who should appeal to teams as a reserve. He was projected to make $2 million in his final year of arbitration, suggesting that he's likely to sign at a bargain-bin price.