Dodgers extending Tony Gonsolin when they didn't need to may prove costly

Now he can't be non-tendered ... if that was part of the plan.

Miami Marlins v Los Angeles Dodgers
Miami Marlins v Los Angeles Dodgers / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

Tony Gonsolin likely won't be on a major league mound until 2025 after news broke this week he would need Tommy John surgery. His offseason ankle injury delayed his start to the 2023 season, and then this elbow issue has greatly hampered his progress.

But even before then, were the Dodgers really sold on his All-Star first half in 2022? To the point where they felt the need to offer him a guaranteed two-year contract extension in the offseason when they had the luxury of waiting and seeing through the arbitration process?

Because now the Dodgers are on the hook for his $3.4 million salary in 2024 when they could've been in a better position to renegotiate this offseason (or non-tender him). The writing's been on the wall for Gonsolin for quite a while now, too. He's been injured for three straight years. He's been unreliable in the postseason. He's never exactly been an innings eater.

That said, he's a tremendous asset to have in the back of the rotation, especially at the price the Dodgers held him at originally. His presence is a luxury if the Dodgers stack their 1-3 starters appropriately. He may not be a bonafide postseason arm, but you can use him as a piggybacker/bulk option in various scenarios.

The problem is, the Dodgers have invested far too much money in injured assets over the years. And when you compare Gonsolin to Walker Buehler, this really looks like a knee-jerk business decision that didn't need to be made.

Dodgers extending Tony Gonsolin when they didn't need to may prove costly

Buehler, a Super Two player like Gonsolin, received a two-year, $8 million extension after the 2021 season. He was surefire ace and postseason legend after barely 100 games with the Dodgers. Gonsolin got two years and $6.65 million, which looked like a coup at the time, but not when you look at it through the lens of Buehler's situation.

Non-tendering Gonsolin and simply letting him go during Tommy John rehab would've been heartless ... but non-tendering him and then figuring out a way to better cover his recovery years (because 2025 will likely be one, too) would've been the more prudent approach. That's no longer possible because the Dodgers guaranteed his 2024 money after just 51 total starts.

The Dodgers will need to pay another starter for 2024 in the wake of Gonsolin's injury, which, now that we have more information, is a bit puzzling. It seems his long-term health was jeopardized after he was advised to pitch through a UCL tear that was discovered back in June. Had he gotten the procedure then, he'd be ahead of the curve and possibly on track to return in September of next year, like Buehler is right now. That's still possible, but based on his injury/recovery history, we wouldn't bet on it.

It's not a back-breaking mistake, but unless arbitration candidates are steadfast, reliable options, this represents a case where teams should wait it out instead of trying to get ahead and save a couple of bucks.