On the bubble
Santiago Espinal, Nate Pearson and Trevor Richards are the three arb-eligible players who have some pretty strong arguments both in favor and against them being tendered contracts.
Espinal in particular has shown promise here and there, especially in the last 51 plate appearances of the 2023 season when he hit .375 with a 152 wRC+. He plays decent defense all over the infield and made the 2022 All-Star Game for a reason, even if he isn't quite going to continue to be that player moving forward. If we had to pick one way or another, let's say he is brought back for another year.
Pearson, the Blue Jays' former top prospect, is arb-eligible for the first time in his career and, like Espinal, feels likely to be coming back. The 27-year-old (wow, time flies) made it into 35 games this past season and had his fair share of ups and downs. His 4.85 ERA is a bit inflated by some rough outings, but he continued to show some issues when it comes to command and keeping the ball in the ballpark. His projected $800K salary is dirt cheap, so he'll be back even if it's just to be another depth arm in the high minors.
Then there's Richards, who at one point this past year was to be viewed as one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. A trip to the injured list in the second half of the year resulted in him returning as a whole new pitcher, and not in a good way. In 30 first-half games, he had a 3.02 ERA with 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings. In 26 second-half outings? An ERA of 8.04 with a ton of walks and some seriously hard contact being given up. Sure, this could fully be because of his injuries, but he could also just have been regressing down to what he actually is as a pitcher. Like Espinal, if we're forced to pick one way or another, he'll be back in 2024.