How did Dodgers get Tony Gonsolin to sign cheap 2-year extension?

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres - Game Three
Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres - Game Three / Denis Poroy/GettyImages

Following an All-Star season and what would've been a Cy Young-caliber campaign had he not gotten injured, Tony Gonsolin was ready to stand his ground in the arbitration process. He filed for a $3.4 million salary, but the Los Angeles Dodgers countered at $3 million and wouldn't budge.

That led fans to believe a heated arbitration hearing was coming. Gonsolin went 16-1 with a 2.14 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 119 strikeouts in 24 starts (130.1 innings) last season and the Dodgers were going to make this difficult over $400K?

For his career, Gonsolin is 26-6 with a 2.51 ERA, 3.45 FIP, 0.99 WHIP and 267 strikeouts in 59 games (51 starts), totaling 272.2 innings. He's made a shade above $2 million since debuting in 2019. He's not exactly an ace, but the value for even back-end starting pitchers has skyrocketed. Gonsolin is firmly a mid-rotation arm with a ceiling to become a No. 2.

So then why did Gonsolin file at $3.4 million clearly knowing his potential (accompanied by his impressive body of work) and then relent to sign a team-friendly two-year deal?

In the end, he took $3.4 million for next year and just $3.25 million for this year. Theoretically, had he gone to arbitration and experienced a worst-case scenario where the panel sided with the Dodgers, he would've been in line for a much more hefty raise in 2024, even if he had a decent 2023 campaign.

How did Dodgers get Tony Gonsolin to sign cheap 2-year contract?

OK, it makes a little bit of sense now. Gonsolin's injury issues the last few years clearly had the Dodgers hesitant. But the right-hander stands to make even more money should he log near-fully healthy seasons the next two years.

He'll get $500K bonuses up to SIX times if he can hit certain start benchmarks. He was also given Cy Young bonuses, but it's not entirely clear if that means he has to win the award or place high in the voting. Either way, this isn't a terrible concession for Gonsolin to make. The Dodgers insure themselves in some way against his shaky health and Gonsolin is willing to bet on himself to make upwards of $3 million per season.

In the end, Gonsolin guaranteed himself more than triple what he's made up until this point in his MLB career and left the door open to make at least an additional $6 million over the life of the two-year contract.

The Dodgers avoided a potential headache this offseason and next, and can now focus on the futures of Julio Urías and Walker Buehler when the time comes. For now, the status quo is intact, but there's much work to be done leading up to the 2024 campaign.