Heading into the offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a group of players who were eligible for salary arbitration. The list grew when Dee Gordon was ruled a Super Two and thus eligible for arbitration earlier than initially anticipated.
More names were added to the group as the Dodgers traded for Juan Nicasio and more recently, outfielder Chris Heisey hours before the tender deadline on Tuesday. Once the dust settled, the group of arbitration-eligible players included Darwin Barney, Drew Butera, A.J. Ellis, Gordon, Heisey, Kenley Jansen, Nicasio and Justin Turner.
Whereas several other teams announced their decisions well in advance of the 9 p.m. PT deadline, the Dodgers operated in a different manner. It wasn’t until after the deadline passed that the team announced they signed Barney to a one-year, $2.525 million deal and tendered contracts to the remaining seven players.
The Dodgers acquired Barney from the Chicago Cubs prior to last season’s trading deadline and he quickly became a strong defensive option for manager Don Mattingly. Of the players eligible to be tendered, Ellis presented the most intriguing situation.
Ellis struggled with injuries last season and the Dodgers were believed to have been interested in Russell Martin. Despite Ellis finishing the year batting below .200, Ellis turned his hitting around in the postseason and twice publicly received support from Clayton Kershaw.
With a position change to second base, Gordon is coming off the best season of his career that earned him a trip to the All-Star Game; Gordon led the Majors in stolen bases and triples. Turner signed with the Dodgers last offseason after being non-tendered by the New York Mets and wound up being a valuable commodity.
Kenley Jansen earned a career-best 44 saves in what was his first full season as closer. Jansen sits fifth on the Dodgers’ All-Time saves list with 105. If both Butera and Ellis are signed, it may signal the Dodgers will move forward with the same catchers as last season. While either conceivably could be traded, both are out of options and would need to clear waivers if sent to the Minors.
The players who were tendered contracts remain eligible for arbitration, though the Dodgers could avoid the process if they’re able to come to terms with them. The Dodgers’ 40-man roster remains full with Tuesday’s developments.