Predicting Blue Jays’ 2023 non-tender decisions

Photo credit:Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Hall
4 months ago
While everyone waits for the first shoe to drop in Major League Baseball’s off-season, this year’s non-tender deadline is set to pass at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, allowing all 30 clubs to save a bit of cash against their 2024 payroll while also clearing valuable space on their 40-man roster.
The Toronto Blue Jays are expected to be active in this regard, as they’re on the hook for a projected $61.4 million in salary for players eligible for arbitration, per MLB Trade Rumors. Plus, they only feature one open spot on their 40-man roster and are hoping to make multiple external additions over the off-season, creating the need for additional space.
Any player not tendered a contract by Friday’s deadline becomes a free agent and can sign with a new team. This process can often involve notable players, just as last year’s did with Cody Bellinger and Jeimer Candelario – both of whom successfully bet on themselves this past season and will be rewarded handsomely this winter.
With that in mind, let’s take a crack at predicting which players will be non-tendered by Toronto’s front office.

Arbitration Eligible

The most obvious move to make is non-tendering reliever Adam Cimber, who threw just 20.2 innings last season due to a shoulder injury and is slated to earn a projected $3.2 million during his final arbitration year. That money can undoubtedly be used more efficiently elsewhere.
Cimber (out of options) no longer holds a spot in the Blue Jays’ bullpen and will be a free agent after next season. As such, cutting ties with him now will slightly increase the organization’s financial flexibility and give the veteran hurler a chance to choose his next destination rather than being claimed off waivers during the season.
Santiago Espinal could also be on the chopping block, given his projected $2.5 million ARB salary. But for a player with three seasons of club control remaining, management can probably find a trade partner for the 29-year-old, especially considering several teams are seeking cost-effective bridge players this winter.
If not for a resurgent 2023 campaign, Cavan Biggio – a free agent after 2025 – may have been on his way out, too, whether via non-tendering or trade. After he took over the reins at second base last post-season, though, chances are his projected $3.7 million salary will remain on the books into next season.
The same can also likely be said for Trevor Richards, who’s projected to earn $2.4 million in his final arbitration year before entering free agency after the 2024 campaign. Despite faltering down the stretch, the 30-year-old reliever was essential in the first half and finished with a career-high 33.3 per cent strikeout rate, which should pave the way for his return.

Pre-Arbitration Eligible

Non-tendering a player not eligible for arbitration won’t be financially beneficial to the Blue Jays. It would, however, create some much-needed flexibility on the club’s 40-man roster.
Ernie Clement, who’s out of options, is a prime non-tender candidate but could return to the organization on a minor-league deal next season. It’d also make sense to take a similar approach with Tyler Heineman, although there could be a higher risk of the team’s No. 3 catcher opting for a more stable opportunity elsewhere.
Nathan Lukes might do the same if he reached the open market. But based on Toronto’s outfield depth – or a lack thereof – the 29-year-old is probably safe from being non-tendered.
With the Blue Jays likely to acquire a back-end starting pitcher, Wes Parsons might fall victim to losing his spot on the club’s 40-man roster. However, considering general manager Ross Atkins mentioned the 31-year-old as a valuable depth arm in Arizona at the GM Meetings, odds are there’d be interest in bringing him back on a minor-league contract.
While Otto Lopez is out of options and unlikely to break camp with the big-league squad in 2024, the organization would be better served to use the 25-year-old infielder as a trade chip – similar to Espinal – this off-season.


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