Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association have reached an agreement to move up this year’s tender deadline from Dec. 2 to Nov. 30 in order to allow non-tendered players time to find homes ahead of a potential lockout, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
MLB’s owners are widely expected to lock out the players once the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on Dec. 1. Once that happens, big-league free agents would not be permitted to sign with new teams until after a new CBA is ratified by both parties, whenever that may be.
“MLB, meanwhile, effectively will flood the market with more free agents who might get pressured into lesser deals after lockout ends,” Rosenthal added in a follow-up tweet. “Some players could benefit, however. A solid contributor who gets non-tendered for financial reasons could sign with another club right away.”
The tender deadline, for those unfamiliar with the concept, is an annual culling of 40-player rosters. Teams use it to trim players from their roster who they deem to be fungible, either because of their salary (arbitration-eligible players are the ones most commonly impacted), because of their health or even because of their fit.
Once a player is non-tendered, they become a free agent. Unlike “real” free agents, non-tendered free agents tend to have to settle for one-year contracts — often at a wage that corresponds with their expected arbitration prize.
Some of the most notable players who were non-tendered last winter include Kyle Schwarber, Carlos Rodón, Eddie Rosario and Archie Bradley.
As an alternative to non-tendering, teams can also trade the players they’re inclined to rid from their roster. The Los Angeles Dodgers, for example, acquired reliever Corey Knebel from the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later last December. (Knebel, it should be noted, posted a 2.45 ERA for the Dodgers in 25 innings.)