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Quick Hits: Non-Tender Increase, Changes In Catching, Positive COVID-19 Tests

Given the financial impact of coronavirus and the increasing trend of non-tenders, expect a record number of non-tenders this offseason, writes Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs. Last year’s 53 total non-tenders was already a record, and it’s safe to assume MLB will surpass that number this year. There are success stories from this field, of course. Take Kevin Gausman, who was non-tendered last winter before being extended and accepting the $18.9MM qualifying offer just a year later.

Increasing DFAs is an issue that compounds on itself, however, as those non-tendered players enter the available player pool, giving teams more and more options to consider opposite their own arbitration-eligible players. Specifically, Longehagen points to catchers, power first basemen or designated hitters, and infielders without power as three pools of players likely to hit the open market.

  • Longenhagen also provides interesting analysis about the changing dynamics of the catcher position. The eventual implementation of electronic strikes zones diminishes the important of pitch framing, which has long been on the league radar. But Longenhagen also notes that the universal DH makes the catcher spot the most likely place for a pinch-hitter. The universal DH does seem to be on its way, even if it doesn’t happen in 2021, and the two-back system, so to speak, is already in use for much of the league. Still, the specialization of the catcher position is shifting ever so slightly. Whether we see arm strength and blocking ability more valued in free agency this season remains to be seen. Electronic strike zones could alter the pitching market too, of course, but any shifts in that regard are more likely to be in the development and drafting stages than free agency.
  • The Mariners cancelled their last two instructional league games due to a pair of positive COVID-19 tests, per Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (via Twitter). One of the two also had a pair of negative tests, while the other is isolating and following protocols. There were no other positive tests and contact tracing was performed, but the Peoria facility is still being shut down – as has become the standard – out of an “abundance of caution.”
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