Today is the final day teams are allowed to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players. What this means is any player who has between 3-5 years of major league experience (and in some special cases 2) has to be offered arbitration or reach an agreement on a contract for the next season or they are non-tendered, in other words released. The Padres will have to make this decision with each of their 9 arbitration eligible players tomorrow. While it’s almost always an easy choice for the team, there’s a few interesting cases in this years crop. Here’s a the full list of the Padres arbitration of eligible players and their salaries from 2014 and what they are expected to make in 2015 if they are indeed tendered a contract.
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Like I said before in most cases their will be no thought put into whether or not to tender the player a contract. Alexi Amarista, Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy, Rene Rivera, Tyson Ross and Dale Thayer all performed last season and are well worth what they’re projected to make. A.J. Preller likely hasn’t lost any sleep over any of these guys, but there’s still 3 guys unanswered for.
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I’m only discussing Joe Wieland, because he didn’t see a big league mound in 2014. Now that he’s fully on the comeback trail, the Padres can afford to keep the young righty whose still full of potential, even if it is unclear if he’ll ever be fully healthy.
The other two though are much more complicated cases. Everth Cabrera and Yonder Alonso were major disappointments in 2014, and the Padres might not to commit $4.5 million to 2 players who might not even be worth half that on their own.
Starting with Cabrera, we’ll begin with his onfield issues. Cabrera has only played in over 100 games in a single season twice with a career high of 115 games. Constantly battling small nagging injuries that seem to accumulate and tear him down. It seems those injuries finally caught up with his performance as he followed up his All Star 2013 with an unimpressive slash line of .232/.272/.300 while only stealing 18 bases. It may not just be the injuries causing a drop off in his performance though. In 2013 Cabrera was suspended 50 games for violating MLB’s drug policy in connection with the Biogenesis scandal. While that was bad enough he followed up that mistake with an even worse one this year. He was arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana and was later charged with resisting arrest, and Dennis Lin reported that “Cabrera was not entirely forthcoming with team officials in a meeting shortly after the DUI arrest”. He can’t stay healthy, consistent or out of trouble. It may be the best option for both sides to part ways.
As for Alonso, he doesn’t carry legal troubles of Cabrera with him, but he does share the concerns of injuries and performance. The past two season for him have been him going on and off the disabled list. In 2013 he was still fairly productive when on the field, but he stumbled this past season. A lot of it may attributed to some bad luck, though. His BABIP of .251 wasn’t just significantly low for him, but significantly lower than the league average of .299. It’s likely linked to his 5% increase in flyballs hit while playing in Petco coupled with his lack of power, but also some bad luck. Another concern was his walk rate of 5.9%. Alonso has always had a strong grasp of the strike zone, and he had never walked fewer than 8.3% of the time in a season including his years in the minors. A huge part of his value was his ability to get on base and his great eye was a large factor in that. The Padres put a lot of stock in Alonso, as he was the major piece in the Mat Latos trade and Anthony Rizzo was traded to make room for him. If he can stay healthy and get on base at his normal rate he immediately becomes by far the best first baseman on the roster, and that might make him worth the projected $1.9 million.
Overall Cabrera is in the most danger of being non-tendered. The new front office may want to start fresh and Alonso might not be in those plans, but based on the options available he’s likely to stay.