It’s arbitration time for the 2021 MLB offseason. While many teams, including the Blue Jays, Brewers, and Royals avoided arbitration with their players, 13 players will enter arbitration this offseason. Notable players and teams that avoided arbitration in the 2021 MLB Offseason were Francisco Lindor ($22.3M), Kris Bryant ($19.5M), and Cody Bellinger ($16.1M).
2021 MLB Offseason – Last Year Arbitration Eligible Players
Carlos Correa is the only household name in next year’s free-agent class that didn’t reach an agreement for 2021. Correa asked for $12.75M from the Astros, but they only offered $9.75M. This is not the first time the two parties will go to an arbitration hearing, as they also could not reach an agreement prior to the 2019 season. That offseason, Correa won the hearing and made $5M.
Despite a down year in 2020, Correa is still one of the league’s elite shortstops. He had a fantastic postseason once again, helping the Astros force a Game-7 in the ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays. In the playoffs, Correa hit 7 HRs and had a 226 wRC+ (small sample size, of course) but he proved that his 97 wRC+ and 0.9 fWAR in 2020 wasn’t just due to being caught stealing signs. His 17 career postseason home runs tie to 9th all-time, and he’s only 26 years old.
2021 MLB Offseason – 2nd Year Arbitration Eligible Players
The first pick of the 2015 MLB Draft, Dansby Swanson is up for his second year of arbitration during the 2021 MLB Offseason. Swanson is asking for $6.7M from the Braves, and they offered $6.0M. He has had a disappointing start to his career, but he had a good season in 2020. This year, Swanson had a 116 wRC+ and 10 HRs while playing all 60 games. In his career, he has an 86 wRC+ and 5.8 WAR in 505 games, which doesn’t give him a huge amount of success to back up his $6.7M in court.
2021 MLB Offseason – 1st Year Arbitration Eligible Players
One of only three teams with multiple players going to arbitration hearings, the Dodgers’ ace is asking for $4.15M while the Dodgers want to pay him $3.3M. Buehler has taken over as the Dodgers’ ace in the past two postseasons after an amazing start to his career. He has a career ERA of 3.15 and K-BB% of 22.3%. Buehler is a household name, but it’s only his first year of arbitration, so his number looks very low.
Flaherty was compared to Buehler a lot this past offseason, but a major difference is that Flaherty has only been elite for half a season. Flaherty’s 2nd half of 2019 was an all-time great stretch, but he had a 4.91 ERA and 4.11 FIP in 2020. The Cardinals’ ace is looking for $3.9M, but the team wants to give him $3.3M. Flaherty is still a great arm and had a quality start in the 2020 MLB postseason. In the 2021 MLB Offseason, Flaherty reaches arbitration for his first year, making him a free agent in 2024.
Happ was looking like an MVP candidate through the first half of this season but fell back down to reality in the second half. He still finished with a 131 wRC+ and 1.9 WAR in 57 games. The Cubs offered $3.25M, but Happ wants $4.1M. Entering the 2021 MLB Offseason, Happ has made strides forward in each of his MLB seasons. In his career, Happ has a 116 wRC+ and .369 wOBA, while playing every position on the field except for catcher and shortstop. Happ is one of the players the Cubs will probably keep, especially with Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras trade rumors, and already moving on from Yu Darvish.
Ohtani is an interesting case due to his injury, but when he’s on the field, he’s a great player, especially due to his two-way ability. Shohei Ohtani still hasn’t been able to replicate his Rookie of the Year 2018 season, but unlike some other NPB transfers, he has proven that he can hit MLB pitching. Entering the 2021 MLB Offseason, there were questions about whether Ohtani will ever pitch again.
As a designated hitter, Ohtani has put up 126 wRC+, which is a great middle-of-the-lineup bat. He is also able to pitch at a high level; in 2018, he had a 3.31 ERA and 3.57 FIP with a 19.4 K-BB%. His abilities as a two-way player give Ohtani MVP-potential if all works out, and the Angels want him at $2.5M while he wants $3.3M.
Mike Soroka tore his Achilles in 2020, and he has only pitched one season, but he was granted super-two status entering the 2021 MLB Offseason. Soroka had a great rookie year in 2019, posting a 2.68 ERA, 3.45 FIP, and 4.0 fWAR, but his advanced numbers aren’t as great. He only has a career 4.33 SIERA and 13.3 K-BB%, and he only has 214 innings of MLB experience. Soroka is looking for $2.8M in arbitration and the Braves want him for $2.1M. Depth Charts and Steamer both project a 4.27 ERA from Soroka in 2021, so it’ll be interesting to see what he does coming off his injury next season.
Other Arbitration Trials
The other players who will have arbitration trials this 2021 MLB Offseason aren’t as much big names. They include Ji-man Choi, J.D. Davis, Austin Barnes, Donovan Solano, Anthony Santander, and Ryan Yarbrough.
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