Hot Stove Report: Non-Tender Deadline Looms

Midnight EST on Friday is the next milestone in the off-season as all teams must decide whether to tender contracts to players under team control but who do not have a fixed contract value for 2013. This can lead to arbitration, to long-term contract talks, to a simple one-year deal or possibly even to a trade. Player who aren’t tendered become free agents and can sign with any team.

Often times a player is non-tendered because his cost outweighs his value. Non-tendered players are free to re-sign with their original team. This occurs to reduce cost associated with a player’s years of arbitration eligibility.

The Brewers began the off-season with a handful of non-tender candidates. Nearly all of them have since been designated for assignment and subsequently released (or they refused a minor-league assignment with the same effect). The Brewers do have a relatively high-profile non-tender candidate remaining, however…

Manny Parra.

Eventually a well-regarded prospect after being taken in the 26th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft back in 2001, Parra is now a 30-year-old southpaw relief pitcher who doesn’t exactly get left-handed hitters out like he should if he were to focus his efforts.

It can be accurately stated that over the course of his career Parra fares better against lefties than he does against right-handed hitters. This is reflected in his career splits of .267/.349/.417/.766 against .290/.371/.438/.809. It’s also accurate that in his first season where he only pitched out of the bullpen, Parra beat his career averages.

Therein lies the question which must be answered by Doug Melvin et al. Should Parra become a LOOGy and, if so, how much is he worth (financially) in that role?

Parra has had a bit of relative success against right-handed hitters when you compare him to a “standard” LOOGy. What you have to ask yourself if you’re Melvin is whether Parra is consistently successful enough to continue to warrant a role where he faces multiple hitters are varying handedness in a given appearance.

I personally don’t think so and I would completely understand if Melvin and field manager Ron Roenicke altered Parra’s role in 2013…assuming he’s with the team.

That’s the other question. If Parra, who is arbitration-eligible, isn’t worth the usual increase by way of the arbitration process. This is Parra’s second year of arbitration eligibility. Parra made $1.2 million in 2012* which isn’t all that much in the grand scheme of things. With the premium on bullpen arms, especially given that it could be argued that Parra has added value in that some might feel he could still start games, a 2013 salary of $1.75 million or more wouldn’t shock me.

So Parra isn’t as pressing of an issue as Jose Veras, Kameron Loe, and Nyjer Morgan were, for example. Each of those players were projected for new salaries of over $2.5 million. In other words, if the Brewers decide to keep Manny Parra for 2013, it works financially on its own merit. Putting everything together though with production determining value for that cost is what Melvin and company are no doubt weighing.

The other thing to note about the non-tender deadline is that there will be players released by other teams, some of which might be appealing to the Brewers. It could be a cheaper way to fill some of these bullpen roles which currently stand open for Milwaukee. If they do cut ties with Parra (and then don’t bring him back) the Brewers really only have three players currently in the bullpen. They are John Axford, Jim Henderson, and Brandon Kintzler.

They’ll need help. They’d do well for at least one piece of the help to throw the pill with his left hand. Will that be Parra? Stay tuned.

*Source: Baseball-Reference.com

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