Other non-tender candidates
Heath Hembree is more of a long-shot candidate to be non-tendered coming off the worst season of his career where he posted a 4.20 ERA and 4.1 BB/9. His track record shows he’s better than that and he was still one of the team’s most utilized middle relievers, reaching 60 innings for the second consecutive season.
Boston could look to revamp a bullpen that was shaky at times during the regular season, potentially making Hembree expendable. It’s hard to see them cutting ties with him this month though with the status of free agents Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly yet to be determined.
The only other viable non-tender candidate is Steven Wright. The former All-Star has enough upside to warrant keeping at a projected price tag of $1.4 million. He pitched well this season, although he was limited by injuries and recently underwent another knee surgery that could cost him part of the 2019 season. It’s possible the team could cut ties with the knuckleballer if they believe his latest injury setback will prevent him from being a factor next year but it would be a bit surprising considering he remains under team control until 2021.
We should expect all 12 of these arbitration-eligible players to be tendered a contract, with Thornburg being the possible exception. A case can be made for a few others but I wouldn’t bet on it. The reigning World Series champions will look to bring back as much of the band as they can to defend their title.