What Our Readers Think Will Happen To the Big Names at the Non-Tender Deadline

Last week, I asked our readers to answer a few questions about what might happen at the non-tender deadline. I didn’t list every potential non-tender decision, of course; I’ll point you to Eric Longenhagen’s analysis of nearly every decision teams will be faced with at the deadline for more comprehensive coverage. I was more interested in how you felt the deadline would go for a few of the bigger names and potential contracts.

For the eight players included, I asked if the player would be tendered a contract or reach agreement with his current team, be traded or claimed on waivers by another team, or be non-tendered and become a free agent. For one of the players below, we’ve already received at least a partial answer: Hunter Renfroe was designated for assignment by the Rays so they could use his 40-man spot to protect players for the Rule 5 draft. This was the same process used last year by the Orioles before they traded Jonathan Villar to the Marlins. While Renfroe might be traded or become a free agent, he will not be tendered a contract by the Rays for next season.

As for the results (we received around 1,000 responses per player), let’s start with the biggest name on the list: former MVP Kris Bryant.

Less 10% of the respondents believe Kris Bryant will hit free agency, though when combined with the results for a trade or waiver claim, more than one-third of our readers expect Bryant won’t be with the Cubs by the end of next week.

Up next, Gary Sánchez.

We see roughly the same split as Bryant in terms of the catcher’s current team tendering a contract versus something else, but the something else takes a different shape with Sánchez. Of the one-third of readers who don’t see Sánchez on the Yankees in 2021, more than half think the club will simply drop its catcher and make him a free agent. It’s an indication that even though Bryant is set to make three times as much money, there’s a presumption of greater trade value for Bryant than Sánchez.

Now, let’s look at another player with a good track record and a poor 2020 season: Tommy Pham.

We continue the two-thirds, one-third theme with a majority of the respondents thinking Pham will be tendered a contract by the Padres. Here, we see even more people believing that Pham will simply be let go by San Diego at his potential $8 million salary. We are still only a little over 20% on that score, but that’s more than with Sánchez and way more than with Bryant.

Now, we’ll go to another corner outfielder with a roughly $8 million potential salary in Kyle Schwarber.

Here we have the first player to dip below 60% on whether his present team will retain his services. Schwarber had a tough 2020 season at the plate, and he might be more of a platoon bat with questions about his outfield defense than a lineup stalwart. Even so, he’s still likely to receive a contract from the Cubs, though nearly a quarter of voters expect a trade ahead of the December 2 deadline.

How about another corner outfielder? Here’s Eddie Rosario:

Here we see a 50/50 split between the Twins keeping Rosario or letting him go by trade or non-tender. Longenhagen thinks the Twins will likely non-tender Rosario, though it seems possible the two sides could work out a deal if Rosario doesn’t think he’ll get picked up or that the free agent market might not be great for a corner outfielder with a slightly above-average bat.

Hunter Renfroe is the final corner outfielder in the group, and we already know he won’t be back with the Rays, though that wasn’t known when we published the post.

A vast majority were in line with the Rays’ apparent thinking, as Renfroe’s DFA means he’ll either be traded, claimed with no compensation, or become a free agent. He should make a decent weak side of a platoon somewhere.

Now, we’ll look at a couple of pitchers, with Jon Gray first.

Gray has had an up and down career with the Rockies, but after a solid 2019, his 2020 season didn’t go well. He was eventually shut down with shoulder issues, and it isn’t clear just how healthy he will be for 2021. If the Rockies are serious about reducing payroll and can’t find a taker for Gray, he might end up a free agent.

Finally, you considered a reliever in the Brewers’ Corey Knebel.

Just under a third of the respondents indicated they expect Knebel to end up back in Milwaukee. A majority expect a non-tender, in line with Longenhagen’s assessment. Some expect a trade, though if Brad Hand’s sailing through waivers is any indication of the reliever market, Knebel could soon join him as a free agent.

Thanks for all the responses!





Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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The Gary Sanchez results are certainly coloured by the article on Sanchez that appeared here a day or so before you posted your survey.