CLEVELAND, Ohio — Danny Salazar is eligible for salary arbitration this winter for the third time in his career with the Indians. Will they offer it to him or try to sign him for less money before non-tendering him?
Salazar made $5 million this year and never threw a pitch of consequence. He came to spring training with a sore right shoulder and never progressed beyond bullpen sessions and batting practice. In July he underwent arthroscopic debridement and a bursectomy on his shoulder, bringing his season to an end.
The Indians have eight players eligible for arbitration for 2019. Francisco Lindor and Trevor Bauer should top a combined $20 million whether they sign one-year deals or take the Indians to arbitration. Salazar, Nick Goody, Neil Ramirez, Leonys Martin, Brandon Barnes and Cody Anderson are also eligible.
If the Indians offer Salazar a contract on Nov. 30, the deadline when all unsigned players must be offered contracts, the most they can cut his salary in arbitration is 20 percent. They could sign him for less than that if they were able to do a deal before Nov. 30. If they can’t reach a deal, and don’t offer him a contract for 2019, Salazar will become a free agent.
The Indians could take the same approach with Goody, Martin and Anderson. They all missed big chunks of the season with injuries or illness. Anderson, returning from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, ended last season healthy. Goody is still rehabbing from right elbow surgery and Martin is expected to be ready for spring training after hit with a life-threatening bacterial infection that ended his season in August.
They could do the same thing with Ramirez and Barnes. But Salazar will be the toughest decision. He was an All-Star in 2016, but has done little sense because of elbow and shoulder pain. In his career with the Indians, he’s averaging 10.512 strikeouts per nine innings, the most in franchise history for pitcher with more than 500 innings.
But manager Terry Francona has said in the past that it’s doubtful Salazar’s arm can’t stand the stress of the bullpen. In the rotation, he’s been passed by Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber. And it’s still unclear if and when he’ll be ready to pitch in 2019.