The Dodgers have a fight they never wanted on their hands with Walker Buehler.
In a year in which salary disagreements over even the slightest figures will likely become magnified, it would’ve behooved the Dodgers to avoid silly squabbles with their best arbitration-eligible players.
After all, with lost revenues and swirling justifications on the table, the slightest gap between team and player could become a loud, angry gulf this time around.
Unfortunately, Los Angeles was not able to come to an agreement with de facto ace Walker Buehler at the very first opportunity for him to experience the arbitration process.
Though Buehler is under contract through 2024, that doesn’t mean a protracted fight is a valuable experience of any kind at this point in time.
This offseason, more so than any other (though it is a trend), MLB teams are interested in shaving any possible dollars off each and every contract that comes before them.
As silly as it may sound, the difference between Justin Turner’s three-year deal being completed or becoming too burdensome could be the marginal adjustments to the team’s existing, controllable players.
Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, Buehler and the team weren’t particularly close to reconciling before the arbitration process began, sitting $850,000 apart from one another.
Buehler was given Super Two status earlier this offseason, and was projected for just a $2.7 million salary. Considering every figure we’ve seen exceeds that significantly, this appears to be an expensive first step in an ever-escalating scale; blessed with the additional arbitration year, there’s a good chance the powerful righty ends up being the most expensive pitcher of all time in his final year of eligibility.
With such a hefty escalator to come, it’s bad news that the two sides are already battling over these small increments in Year 1 of the process.
Neither side expected Buehler to reach arbitration this year before things changed a month ago. And in a few weeks, we’ll see if the Dodgers or the pitcher did their anger management homework.
Even after a World Series charge led in large part by Buehler, the good vibes weren’t able to halt a monetary fight. Not good.