Heading into the offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers have 12 players who are eligible for arbitration. The biggest name in Cody Bellinger, who is due over $18 million, might not even be retained. The second-biggest name in Walker Buehler isn’t even going to play in 2023.
As of this moment, the Dodgers are projected to have $186 million committed to their payroll next season, and that number bakes in active contracts, arbitration estimates and pre-arbitration estimates. Contract options are not included.
So, if you subtract Bellinger’s $18 million, we’re looking at a $168 million payroll, which counts the “Super Two” arbitration players the Dodgers have in Tony Gonsolin, Brusdar Graterol and Evan Phillips.
For those unclear on what “Super Two” status means, here’s the Major League Baseball glossary definition:
"“Players typically must accrue three years of Major League service time — with one year of service time equaling 172 days on the 26-man roster or the Major League injured list — to become eligible for salary arbitration. Super Two is a designation that allows a select group of players to become eligible for arbitration before reaching three years of service time.“To qualify for the Super Two designation, players must rank in the top 22 percent, in terms of service time, among those who have amassed between two and three years in the Majors. The specific cutoff date varies on a year-to-year basis.”"
How do Dodgers’ Super Two arbitration players affect the 2023 payroll?
Super Two players earn more money earlier than other players in the arbitration process due to their accelerated situation. Here’s the financial breakdown for the Dodgers’ three candidates:
- Tony Gonsolin – 2022 salary: $720K
- Brusdar Graterol – 2022 salary: $720K
- Evan Phillips – 2022 salary: $720K
- Tony Gonsolin – 2023 salary: $3.5 million
- Brusdar Graterol – 2023 salary: $1.2 million
- Evan Phillips – 2023 salary: $1.4 million
In 2022, the three accounted for a $2.16 million total investment. In 2023, that number will ballon to around $6 million. Three times the price. Maybe this would have an adverse effect on a small market team, but not the Dodgers, who already absorbed Bellinger’s MLB record first-year arbitration salary ($11.5 million) after his 2019 MVP season.
The Dodgers are retaining top talent at a bargain price, which will allow them to once again make a splash in free agency and/or the trade market.