The free agent pool is about to get bigger, and you can expect to hear the phrase non-tender used frequently over the next few days. But what does it mean when a player is non-tendered?
The deadline for teams to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players is Friday. Players who are non-tendered will become free agents.
Players eligible for arbitration* have between three and six years of major league experience. There is a small group of players with less than three years of service, Super Twos, are also eligible for arbitration.
Teams often tender players contracts and attempt to negotiate contracts prior before going to arbitration. When the two sides go to a hearing, it’s essentially the team's job to build a case on why the player isn’t as good as he thinks. Obviously, that can cause some damage in the relationship between the team and player, and negatively impact negotiations down the road.
A couple of the most talked about non-tender candidates are the Atlanta Braves’ Jair Jurrjens and Mark Reynolds of the Baltimore Orioles. It’s not that their teams don’t want them, it’s that they could be more expensive than their clubs are willing to pay.
Jurrjens, 26, has 125 starts under his belt and a 3.62 ERA. He struggled last season, however, posting a 6.89 ERA with the Braves and 4.98 ERA in Triple-A. Reynolds hit 23 home runs last season, and has 181 for his career. His impressive power numbers and the fact that he’s played 853 big league games will likely play to his advantage in an arbitration hearing.
Pre-arbitration eligible players are anyone who has less than three years of major league service (except for Super Twos) and can be paid the minimum salary of $480,000. Clubs often pay the players more, especially as their service time increases, but they are not obligated to pay pre-arb players any more than the minimum.
*NB: Per the rules of the new collective bargaining agreement, arbitration-eligible players must be offered a salary that is at least 80 percent of their previous year's earnings, at minimum, regardless of their performance.