The annual Winter Meetings are almost upon us. In less than a week, on December 7, general managers and front office personnel from around the league will meet to discuss free agents, the Rule 5 draft, trades and all kinds of other things that will make for interesting offseason discussion. Until then, we have one more housekeeping event to tidy up the rosters before they begin to shift: The non-tender deadline.
All Major League Baseball clubs have until 11:59 p.m. EST, Wednesday to tender a contract to eligible players on their roster. To be eligible for a tender, a player must have accumulated three years of Major League service time. Teams may choose to tender a contract offer to a player in order to proceed to arbitration. If they opt not to, the player becomes an outright free agent and can sign wherever he chooses. At least the first time through the process, arbitration normally comes cheap, but if a player has an injury risk or may not be worth more than the league minimum for various other reasons, a team can decide that it is just not worth the cost… which brings us to the Cleveland Indians only non-tender-eligible player, reliever Nick Hagadone.
Hagadone has not looked like the lefty reliever answer that Cleveland has needed during his five seasons on the team. In 118.1 total innings, the 29-year-old has a cumulative 4.72 ERA, a 4.11 FIP, and a 24.1 percent strikeout rate. He has always been just good enough to keep on the roster, but never quite good enough to instill confidence in his ability late in games. He has never pitched in more than 36 games in any season, and he is coming off season-ending surgery on his throwing shoulder in July.
The low point of Hagadone’s career has to be in 2012 when he punched a wall and injured his throwing hand following a bad outing against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Indians placed him on the disqualified list following the incident, meaning they did not have to pay him while he recovered from the self-inflicted injury.
While true that the Indians need to shore up their bullpen this offseason, an ineffective pitcher coming off surgery probably is not the answer. Cleveland also recently traded for right-handed pitcher Kirby Yates, who is equally as much of a question mark as Hagadone, but younger and further away from arbitration. MLB Trade Rumors has Hagadone projected to receive $600,000 in salary arbitration should the Indians choose to tender him, which would be an $82,900 bump over his salary last year, but still extremely cheap in baseball terms.