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Dodgers Face Tender Deadline Decisions

As the Thursday night deadline approaches to tender contracts to players under reserve, the Los Angeles Dodgers have a number of decisions to be made, most importantly involving catcher Russell Martin. The Dodgers have a number of players not yet eligible for free agency who will be eligible for salary arbitration. By Thursday night at 9 p.m. PST, the Dodgers must decide which players to whom they wish to tender contracts.

If a player is non-tendered, he immediately becomes a free agent. However, that does not preclude the club from re-signing said player. It just means there will be competition with the other 29 MLB teams. Tendering a contract to an arbitration-eligible player means the two sides will submit salary figures by January 18, and if the player and club can't agree on a deal, an arbitration hearing will be held to determine that player's 2011 salary. Arbitration is an either/or scenario; a panel of three will pick either the salary submitted by the player or the one submitted by the owner. But, most arbitration-eligible players never see the inside of an arbitration hearing, as deals are often agreed before a hearing is needed.

But, we are getting ahead of ourselves. Here are the players about whom the Dodgers must make a decision by Thursday night:

Already Gone

Ryan Theriot, 2B      
Service Time: 4 years, 118 days         
2010 Salary: $2.6 million

With the signing of Juan Uribe, Theriot was a prime candidate to non-tender, as he was in line for a likely raise to roughly $3.5 million or more. The Dodgers ttraded Theriot Tuesday to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher Blake Hawksworth.

The No Doubters

Hong-Chih Kuo, RP     
Service Time: 4 years, 114 days    
2010 Salary: $950,000

Kuo, at the very least, will be the prime setup man for the Dodgers, if not the closer.


Chad Billingsley, SP      
Service Time: 4 years, 110 days        
2010 Salary: $3.85 million

Billingsley joins Clayton Kershaw atop the Dodger starting rotation, which amazingly has been already set before the winter meetings.


James Loney, IB      
Service Time: 4 years, 12 days             
2010 Salary: $3.1 million

Loney's production relative to his position is getting harder and harder to justify, especially as his salary rises, but it would be a shocker if the Dodgers didn't bring him back.


The Likely Non-Tenders

Russell Martin, C      
Service Time: 4 years, 150 days      
2010 Salary: $5.05 million

The Dodgers want Martin back, but likely not at $6 million or more. His offensive production has declined since the 2008 All-Star break, and is coming off a torn labrum in his hip, but relative to other available catchers is still quite a valuable asset. If Martin is tendered a contract, the maximum cut he can receive is 20%, meaning he would make at least $4.04 million in 2011 under that scenario. Look for the Dodgers to try to work out an incentive-laden deal, perhaps even a two-year contract, with Martin, but don't be surprised if the Dodgers non-tender him first.


George Sherrill, RP      
Service Time: 5 years, 147 days     
2010 Salary: $4.5 million 

Sherrill, the one-time closer who has now become a lefty specialist, will definitely be non-tendered, as the Dodgers won't want to give him anywhere close to $4.5 million or more after his 6.69 ERA in 2010. Sherrill is a candidate to be re-signed for a much smaller contract.

For more Dodgers news and information, be sure to read True Blue LA.