When is the MLB Arbitration deadline? Dodgers players who are eligible & more

San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers / John McCoy/GettyImages
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The Dodgers are flying high this offseason with all of their shiny new acquisitions and $1 billion+ spending, but they still have to traverse the sticky situation that is arbitration. A number of Dodgers are eligible for raises this year and, while the team clearly has money to spend, it doesn't guarantee that players won't challenge the team on their initial offerings.

Actually going into arbitration isn't ideal for anyone, and historically, players who lose hearings come out on the other end with hurt feelings. We're coming up on the deadline for players and teams to make their offers, so we'll know soon what raises will mean terms of payroll, and what some could mean in terms of giving the Dodgers some grief over the next month. Here's everything you need to know.

When is the MLB arbitration deadline?

The deadline for both teams and players to submit initial salary figures to avoid arbitration is 8:00 PM EST on Thurs., Jan 11. Until Wednesday afternoon, it had been set for Friday, but ... things change, and they change fast. For some reason.

If they don't match up well enough, and one or both parties want to fight it out, they go to a neutral arbitration panel in late January to early February, who hears both sides' arguments. Last year, the Dodgers avoided arbitration ahead of the deadline with nine out of 10 players, the exception being Tony Gonsolin, who asked for $3.4 million against the Dodgers' offer of $3 million. They still managed to avoid a hearing by agreeing to a two-year, $6.65 million deal before they had to take it to a panel.

Avoiding arbitration is usually preferable for everyone involved. More often than not, panels take the team's side, which can lead to resentment on the player's side and potentially lessen the likelihood of that player choosing to stay with the team in free agency. At the beginning of 2023, 19 players went into hearings and only six won. However, there's a reason why the right to arbitration has to be earned through service time in the league. Players, especially those who perform well, expect raises, and they can choose to escalate things if they want to.

Which Dodgers players are eligible for arbitration?

The Dodgers have — count 'em — 12 players eligible for arbitration this year. Gavin Lux, Alex Vesia, and JP Feyereisen are all in their first year of eligibility, while Walker Buehler, Evan Phillips, and Brusdar Graterol are all on different years of Super Two eligibility, which is a complicated exception that basically means players who are in a top percentage of service time at the end of any given year can be eligible for arbitration ahead of the typical three-year mark.

Yency Almonte has already settled with the Dodgers on a $1.9 million deal for 2024, but the other 12 are still question marks. Will Smith, Buehler, and Dustin May headline this arbitration class, and some complications could present themselves with the latter two, who are injured and whose return dates are still murky.

What are the projected salaries for the Dodgers' arbitration-eligible players?

MLB Trade Rumors has projected figures for all of the league's arb-eligible players. These numbers can be hard to pin down, so there's no telling what they'll actually look like until the team and its players reach an agreement. Here are the estimated salaries for the Dodgers' arbitration eligible players:

Walker Buehler: $8.03 million
Ryan Yarbrough: $3.8 million
Caleb Ferguson: $2.3 million
Yency Almonte: $1.9 million (signed for $1.9 million)
Will Smith: $9.3 million
Dustin May: $2.4 million
Brusdar Graterol: $2.5 million
Evan Phillips: $3.4 million
Gavin Lux: $1.1 million
J.P. Feyereisen: $1 million
Alex Vesia: $1.2 million
Victor Gonzalez: $1 million

Smith is expecting the biggest hike in salary (he agreed to a $5.25 million figure last year to avoid arbitration, while Buehler is expecting the smallest (his $8.025 million last year looks pretty much identical to MLB Trade Rumors' prediction for this year), given Smith's All-Star performance in 2023 and Buehler's absence for the entire 2023 season.

The projection of May's new offer, up $725,000 from last year, is a direct reflection of May's probable unavailability through 2024 due to a dubious injury. The Dodgers will want to avoid a hearing and acknowledge the good work he did for them before he got hurt, but also won't want to pay him top dollar if he can't perform this year, so the result may be a raise that's just $5,000 over what pre-arb players make at league minimum. Lux's $350,000 estimated raise is also just a small concession that's a result of his absence throughout 2023.

The other big raise should go to Evan Phillips, who made $1.3 million in 2023. Phillips was a ringer out of the Dodgers' bullpen in 2023, pitching 61.1 innings as a reliever for a 2.05 ERA, and he was even better for the Dodgers the year before (63 innings, 1.14 ERA). If he can keep things rolling, he should expect even more money over his last two years of arbitration.

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