The perception among agents has long been that teams manipulate the service time of superstar prospects by deferring the date when they are called up to the majors — Kris Bryant, they say, is one example among many. And in recent winters, older players have lost some of their earning potential, as clubs shied away from getting locked into pricey long-term deals with veteran free agents, especially those over 30.

Now the club efficiency weapons seemingly are aimed at young players who are arbitration eligible. On Monday, teams faced a deadline by which they had to decide whether to tender contracts to players not yet eligible for free agency. By the time 8 p.m. Eastern rolled around, 54 players were effectively released, including Blake Treinen, one of baseball’s best relievers in 2018, and Addison Russell, the Cubs infielder who struggled in his return after serving a suspension under the sport’s domestic violence policy.

Players in this situation are referred to in the industry as non-tenders, and the 54 non-tenders were the most in this decade, according to the numbers compiled by Paul Hembekides of ESPN Stats & Information.