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Takeaways from MLB's non-tender deadline

theScore logo theScore 2019-12-03 Michael Bradburn
Domingo Santana wearing a blue shirt © Abbie Parr / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Now that Major League Baseball's deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players has come and gone, here are the seven biggest takeaways from the event that left a cast of decent players unemployed:

White Sox invest $5.4M in backup catcher

a baseball player holding a bat: Jason Miller / Getty Images Sport / Getty © Provided by theScore Jason Miller / Getty Images Sport / Getty

In his final year of arbitration and coming off a breakout, All-Star campaign, James McCann undoubtedly deserved a raise and is still a bargain at $5.4 million. However, after the Chicago White Sox invested $123 million earlier this winter in Yasmani Grandal and Jose Abreu, it might be difficult for the club to find playing time for the 29-year-old beyond a backup catcher role. Especially when you consider that Eloy Jimenez will still be deployed in the DH spot on off days in the field.

That means getting surplus value out of McCann will be increasingly difficult. But, at worst, he's now a decent, cost-controlled trade chip for a club looking to pivot toward winning in 2020.

Padres find replacement at second base

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After shipping Luis Urias to the Milwaukee Brewers, the San Diego Padres had a glaring vacancy at second base. Taking a chance on Jurickson Profar makes a lot of sense.

San Diego named Jayce Tingler their new manager, poaching the 39-year-old from the Texas Rangers, where he served on the coaching staff and as an assistant general manager. It's likely not a coincidence the Padres added Profar after he was a top prospect for Texas - and the top farmhand in all of baseball in 2012 when Padres GM A.J. Preller was in the Rangers' front office - during Tingler's tenure with the club.

The Padres parted with a 25-year-old catching prospect in order to land Profar, who is an extremely interesting buy-low piece with pedigree and doesn't preclude them from acquiring a different second baseman as well.

Brand new Brew Crew

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Speaking of the Brewers adding Urias, the non-tender deadline represented a continued page-turning of sorts as the current roster bears almost no resemblance to the 2019 Opening Day squad.

While the outfield should look identical, first baseman Jesus Aguilar is gone, second baseman Mike Moustakas just signed a multi-year deal with the Cincinnati Reds, Grandal landed a four-year contract earlier this winter, Travis Shaw was non-tendered, and Opening Day starter Jhoulys Chacin is gone. Considering the fact Urias will now compete for the shortstop gig with Orlando Arcia, that spot in the lineup may also change.

Marlins willing to pay for Orioles' leftovers

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When it was first rumored that Jonathan Villar's tenure with the Baltimore Orioles was down to its final days, it was assumed a contending team would take a chance on the speedy middle infielder. Instead, it was the Miami Marlins.

It's a pretty damning statement on the outlook of the 2020 Orioles that they were unwilling to pay a player who was worth 4.0 WAR, according to FanGraphs, when the Marlins are.

The Marlins will also take a chance next year on Aguilar, who the wild-card-winning Tampa Bay Rays were unwilling to pay. In the Rays' defense, Aguilar is further removed from being a productive major leaguer and will be banked on as a bounce-back candidate for a club looking to buy low.

Shrinking middle class

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Almost nothing is more evident on non-tender day than league average players losing work. As noted by Eno Sarris of The Athletic, both Kevin Pillar and Domingo Santana - players projected to be worth roughly 1.0 WAR next year - will hit free agency simply because the arbitration process would seek to pay them a reasonable $9-million salary.

Teams are more willing to look elsewhere - like in their own minor-league systems - for players who could be worth 80% of that value for less than half the cost.

Once-promising pitchers kicked to curb

a close up of Taijuan Walker in a baseball uniform throwing a ball: Joe Camporeale / USA TODAY Sports © Provided by theScore Joe Camporeale / USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Gausman, Taijuan Walker, and Aaron Sanchez - once top prospects - all hit the unemployment line on non-tender day. However, the trio will all likely land deals that will provide a platform for them to reach their potential.

No one from the group has been more of a disappointment than Walker, who was a top-10 prospect in baseball during his prime. Due to injuries, the right-hander has been held to 14 innings over the past two years. While healthy, he's been a serviceable starter and will be an intriguing back end option for a club willing to take a chance.

First baseman gets no love

a baseball player holding a bat on a field: Brace Hemmelgarn / Getty Images © Provided by theScore Brace Hemmelgarn / Getty Images

It's crazy to think about, but the Minnesota Twins non-tendered C.J. Cron because he was slated to earn $7.7 million in arbitration mere weeks after the White Sox handed Jose Abreu a $50-million extension. Here's a comparison of those players over the past two seasons:

Cron has been marginally worse over that span, but it's hard to imagine one of these players hitting unemployment while the other - who is three years older - locked down an eight-figure deal. It's a familiar spot for Cron, though, who was designated for assignment by the Rays last winter and bounced back just fine.

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