Rather than a sharp increase in file-and-trial tactics this arbitration season, we could actually see more pre-tender deals as players opt to avoid a drawn-out negotiation process. An even bigger motivating factor may be the threat of a non-tender that would push players into a depressed free agent market that might see them offered less than they’d expected in arbitration.
Have heard from multiple people today who expect there to be more pre-tender deals “than ever before” ahead of the non-tender deadline on Wednesday.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 1, 2020
For someone like Albert Almora Jr., who by all accounts is a very clear non-tender candidate, that could mean accepting a lower salary than they had in 2020. The arbitration process allows for up to a 20% pay cut, but that is almost never the case even for players who performed poorly in the previous season. Perhaps the most notable recent example of this is Gerrit Cole, who was offered a flat salary by the Pirates and threatened with a pay cut if he didn’t comply.
Kyle Schwarber is another who’s been discussed as a non-tender possibility, though he’s unlikely to accept the kind of discount the Cubs might be looking for as they seek to trim payroll. A lower salary would also increase Schwarber’s value should the Cubs shop him, though, again, we’re probably talking about nominal movement.
In the end, I don’t think this will really impact the Cubs a great deal as we head into the December 2 tender deadline. But this is 2020 and who the hell knows what could happen.