More than 200 MLB players are currently eligible for arbitration, meaning they are on a team’s 40-man roster and have enough service time to have their salaries determined through the longstanding backward-looking system. At the low end, this includes players who qualify for Super Two status, the exact cutoff for which is not known yet for 2020. The Super Two cutoff typically falls around two years and 130 days (written as 2.130) but has fallen as low as 2.115 last year. The high end of service time would be anyone short of the six years needed to qualify for free agency, even one day shy like Kris Bryant.
Potentially arbitration eligible players have been getting pared from 40-man rosters since the offseason began, but those that remain will be subject to the non-tender deadline. This deadline is at 8pm ET on Wednesday, December 2nd. By that point, teams must inform arbitration-eligible players whether they will receive a non-guaranteed contract for the 2020 season, or else become free agents. Once a player is tendered a contract, the two sides will have another roughly two months to work out salaries before arbitration hearings kick off in February. Non-tendered players immediately become free agents who can sign with another team for any amount. Those will be added to our free agent list and tracker.
There is a general expectation among baseball writers that this year, arbitration eligible players will be cut loose in record numbers due to teams’ financial losses in 2020 and uncertainty for 2021. Eric Longenhagen at FanGraphs recently explored recent historical non-tender data, suggesting that the number of players being cut at the deadline already has been on the rise. My guess is that we’ll see a handful of players cut that normally wouldn’t be, but nothing wildly abnormal.