The offseason started earlier than planned for the Los Angeles Dodgers. With that, the front office got a head start on internal discussion for several tough questions about the roster and the payroll and how to handle the list of 13 arbitration eligible players.
Here’s a look at that list along with each player’s projected salary for 2024 courtesy of Matt Swartz and MLBTradeRumors.com. We’ll also quickly touch on each player’s roster status and future with the Dodgers.
The list is in order of highest projected salary.
Will Smith, C ($9.3 million): As one of the best catchers in the game and coming off an All-Star season in 2023, Smith has earned his projected $4 million raise. Ideally, the Dodgers approach the 28-year-old with a long-term contract extension offer, but the team has been reluctant to do that under the Andrew Friedman regime.
Walker Buehler, RHP ($8.03 million): Buehler is a lock to be tendered a contract and return to the starting rotation in 2024. The right-hander coming off Tommy John surgery in 2022 nearly came back this season but opted to shut down his bid to return late in September. The projected $8.03 won’t mark much of a raise after missing a season due to injury, but a good year in 2024 will set him up for a nice payday as a free agent in the 2024-2025 offseason.
Ryan Yarbrough, LHP ($3.8 million): The super-utility man of the Dodger pitching staff, Yarbrough is a lock to be tendered a contract for 2024. The projected $3.8 million would mark an $800,000 raise over his 2023 salary.
Evan Phillips, RHP ($3.4 million): Evan Phillips cemented himself as one of the best relievers and best closers in baseball in 2023. He’ll return to the back end of the bullpen in 2024 with a nice projected $2.1 million raise.
Brusdar Graterol, RHP ($2.5 million): The right-hander put together his most dominant season as a big leaguer reliever in 2023. Even with his salary projected to double in 2024, he’s still a bargain in the bullpen.
Dustin May, RHP ($2.4 million): Dustin May has missed the majority of the last two seasons with elbow issues. While he’s not in danger of being non-tendered (you don’t give up on talent like his), the Dodgers may explore an incentive-laden contract extension with May this offseason to give both sides a little more protection. May is not expected back until later in the 2024 season or as late as spring training 2025.
Caleb Ferguson, LHP ($2.3 million): Ferguson is likely to return but not a surefire lock. The value he provides as a left-hander reliever for this team is what would make a projected $1.2 million raise palatable for LA, but there were some questions raised about the 27-year-old in 2023. Non-tender possibility less than 5%.
Yency Almonte, RHP ($1.9 million): Now this is where things get a little tricky for the front office. Almonte was electric in 2022 and inconsistent in 2023. Both seasons he missed significant time with injuries, including missing the final month-plus of this year. At $1.9 million, he’s not expensive, per se, but he’s not a bargain. He’s out of options and the team may have cheaper young arms down at Triple-A they could explore. Still, the upside will likely have the Dodgers take the gamble and tender Almonte a contract for 2024. He’s under team control through 2025.
Alex Vesia, LHP ($1.2 million): The left-hander Vesia is in a similar situation as Almonte but his job security is much more certain. After a tough start to 2023, he rebounded nicely and became the top lefty option out of the bullpen. He’ll be entering his first arbitration year and a $500,000 raise will not be difficult for the Dodgers to handle. He’s under team control through 2026.
Gavin Lux, SS ($1.1 million): Gavin Lux will be back and will be the starting shortstop for the Los Angeles Dodgers after missing 2023 with a devastating knee injury.
Victor Gonzalez, LHP ($1 million): Gonzalez made an unexpected return in 2023 and pitched well early on before struggling mightily. After bouncing back and forth from Triple-A, the left-hander may have established himself as a top up and down sort of 28th man for the Dodger roster in 2024. He’s under team control through 2026.
J.P. Feyereisen, RHP ($1 million): The Dodgers picked up Feyereisen last offseason as he was coming off shoulder surgery. The hope was that he could return in 2023 but a mid-season setback cost him the year. At just $1 million, it’s a low risk, high reward play for LA to keep him. The only thing that could cost the reliever a roster spot is if the Dodgers need a roster spot to protect against the Rule 5 draft this winter.
Wander Suero, RHP ($900,000): Suero struggled with the big league Dodgers but excelled with the AAA Dodgers in 2023. $900k is cheap for LA, but they are more likely to non-tender the veteran right-hander than give him that money this early in the offseason.
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