In an unfortunate turn of events, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Walker Buehler couldn’t come to an agreement before the arbitration deadline, and now the matter will be settled with a case in front of a panel, which will determine the right-hander’s salary for 2021.
It’s really not what you want with your ace of the future, so we’re not sure why it had to come to this, especially when you look at the disparity in the salaries that Buehler and the Dodgers submitted. The Dodgers are the second-richest organization in Major League Baseball and they’re really going to haggle over $800K?
It doesn’t feel right coming down on the Dodgers front office considering all the admirable work they’ve done for the last five years, but this is something that can’t help but garner negative headlines.
Why? Because Buehler has registered a 23-8 record with a 2.91 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 408 strikeouts in 61 career starts (355.1 innings of work) since 2018 (he made all relief appearance in his debut season back in 2017). Additionally, in 11 postseason starts, the right hander owns a 2.35 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 83 strikeouts across 61.1 innings. That includes wins in the NLCS and World Series this past season, which resulted in a championship.
Given that success, Buehler has earned Super Two status this offseason, which pretty much means he’s going to have four years of arbitration (as opposed to three) thanks to his advanced service time and success to start off his MLB career. We know teams are hesitant to upend the market for these types of players, but Buehler should be the exception.
He’s saved the Dodgers over the past three years as Clayton Kershaw has slightly declined and continued to deal with back issues, which have kept him out of action during crucial stretches of time. He’s been the unquestioned ace in the postseason. If you ask us, he’s already worth a lucrative long-term extension.
Maybe they couldn’t come to an agreement because the Dodgers would rather work out an extension, but on the surface this feels disrespectful. Buehler has earned every penny of a potential $4.15 million contract, and if any team can afford to pay that, it’s the Dodgers, who have among the deepest pockets in baseball.
This is a bad look when you consider at all the circumstances. The arbitration process is always complicated, but when you have the chance to avoid tense negotiations with one of your best players, it’s probably best to do that instead of letting it drag out over under $1 million.