2011 Contract Issues Rumors

2011 Contract Issues Series

In our 2011 Contract Issues series, we looked at each club's free agents, options, and arbitration-eligible players after the 2010 season.  Below you can find links to our entry for each team.

2011 Contract Issues: New York Yankees

The Yankees face one contractual option after the season: designated hitter Nick Johnson has a $5.5MM mutual option with a $250K buyout.  Johnson is currently on the DL with an inflamed tendon in his wrist.  It seems unlikely that both sides will exercise the option.

If Johnson goes, the Yankees will be freeing up a total of $67.7MM for departing free agents.  Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Javier Vazquez lead the way.  We'll also tack on another $2.2375 for Alex Rodriguez's salary decrease and money no longer paid to Chad Gaudin and Melky Cabrera.  That's $70MM coming off the books.

Increases to players under contract total $8.5MM, with Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and Robinson Cano getting raises.  The Yankees also have Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes hitting arbitration for the first time.  Boone Logan would be a second-timer, while Sergio Mitre fits into the fourth-time class.  Even adding in the arbitration raises, the Yankees should have a good $55MM to work with without raising payroll.

Of course, a large chunk of that $55MM or so will be allocated toward new contracts for Jeter, Rivera, and possibly Pettitte.  If all three re-sign near their 2010 salaries, it'll eat up most of the free money.  In that case a payroll increase would be necessary to get into the mix on other big-name free agents.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the information.

2011 Contract Issues: Chicago White Sox

The White Sox face two contractual options after the season:

  • Reliever Matt Thornton has a $3MM club option with a $250K buyout.  This is a good bet to be exercised.
  • Backup catcher Ramon Castro has a $1.2MM club option with a $200K buyout.  He's missed most of the season with a heel injury.

The team's other free agents are earning $26.125MM this year, led by Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski.  If they also let Castro go and we add in buyouts paid to Jermaine Dye and Mike MacDougal, the Sox have nearly $29MM coming off the books.

Increases to players under contract total $11.3MM, with Alex Rios, Juan Pierre, Mark Teahen, and Gavin Floyd getting bumps of at least $2MM.  There are also arbitration cases to consider: Alexei Ramirez goes for the first time, John Danks, Carlos Quentin, and Tony Pena a second, and Bobby Jenks a third.  Technically Ramirez is already under contract for '11, but perhaps he's allowed to choose arbitration if he prefers.  I think Jenks will be non-tendered, meaning another $7.5MM off the books.

Using the above scenarios I think the White Sox would have approximately $15MM to work with if they hold payroll steady.  Keep in mind that's before re-signing any free agents, including 2010 offensive standouts Konerko and Andruw Jones.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.

2011 Contract Issues: Minnesota Twins

The Twins face a pair of contractual options after the season:

  • Designated hitter Jason Kubel has a $5.25MM club option with a $350K buyout.  If he is able to crank things up and approach his '09 production, I'd expect the Twins to exercise.
  • Infielder Nick Punto has a $5MM club option with a $500K buyout.  Punto may eventually justify the $4.5MM net price in some statistical or technical sense, but this feels well beyond what he could get as a free agent.

The Twins have plenty of free agents coming off the books, including Carl Pavano, Orlando Hudson, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, and Jim Thome.  The potential losses of Guerrier and Crain, the Twins' current relief innings leaders, will hopefully be offset by the return of Joe Nathan.  Assuming Punto leaves and Kubel stays, the Twins will free up $23.55MM in departing free agents.  Of course, they may elect to re-sign some of them.  Another $100K comes off with Mike Lamb's buyout being paid.

Increases to players under contract will eat up $19.35MM of the free cash.  Joe Mauer leads with a $10.5MM increase, while Michael Cuddyer, Nick Blackburn, and Scott Baker also get decent bumps.  Then there are the arbitration cases.  Kevin Slowey and Alexi Casilla would go for the first time, Delmon Young, Francisco Liriano, and Pat Neshek a second, Clay Condrey a third, and J.J. Hardy a fourth.

Even if they let all departing free agents leave aside from Kubel, the Twins will need to raise payroll past $100MM just to retain under-contract and arbitration-eligible players.

2011 Contract Issues: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers have one contractual option, but it may be decided before the end of the season.  Magglio Ordonez's $15MM option vests with 135 starts or 540 plate appearances.  Barring injury, he'll get there.  On the plus side, it represents a $3MM decrease from his 2010 salary.

In 2011 the Tigers will finally be free of many ill-advised contracts.  Their eight free agents are earning a total of $56.675MM this year, led by Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, Johnny Damon, and Brandon Inge.  Robertson is now with the Marlins, but the Tigers are paying most of his salary.  Factor in the money the Tigers are shedding for Ordonez and they've got just under $60MM coming off the books.

The increase side is light – Justin Verlander gets a $6MM bump.  They've got Ryan Raburn as a first-time arbitration player, Zach Miner going for a second time, and Joel Zumaya a third.  If payroll is held steady, the Tigers will have a whopping $50MM+ to work with.  Even if it's reduced, the Tigers are in good position to work the free agent market to find a left fielder, third baseman, shortstop, and a starting pitcher or two.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.

2011 Contract Issues: Kansas City Royals

The Royals face four contractual options after the season:

  • Right fielder David DeJesus has a $6MM club option with a $500K buyout.  DeJesus continues to do his thing, and it'll make sense to exercise.
  • Reliever Kyle Farnsworth has a $5.25MM club option with a $500K buyout.  Farnsworth can void the option if traded, but it's a moot point since it'll surely be declined.
  • Center fielder Rick Ankiel has a $6MM mutual option with a $500K buyout.  It seems unlikely that both sides exercise.
  • Left fielder Scott Podsednik has a $2MM club option with a $100K buyout.  He's cooled down in the last few weeks.  It's too early to call the option.

The Royals also have four free agents in Jose Guillen, Willie Bloomquist, John Parrish, and Bruce Chen. They're earning a total of $14.7MM this year.  Take another $6.25MM off the books for Farnsworth and Ankiel and $4.85MM for buyouts the Royals won't be paying in '11, and the team has $25.8MM coming off the books.

Increases to players under contract total $11.4MM, assuming DeJesus and Podsednik are retained.  Zack Greinke has the biggest raise at $6.25MM.  First-time arbitration-eligibles include Luke Hochevar, Josh Rupe, Billy Butler, Alberto Callaspo, Brayan Pena, and Josh FieldsRobinson Tejeda and Alex Gordon would go for a second time, while Brian Bannister, Kyle Davies, and Brad Thompson could go for a third.  A good portion of the remaining freed up cash will go to arbitration-eligible players, especially Butler, Callaspo, and Bannister.

If the Royals decline their options on Farnsworth and Ankiel and let their other free agents go while holding payroll steady, they may have a few million left to work with after giving raises.  Significant free agent spending would require a payroll increase.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.

2011 Contract Issues: Colorado Rockies

The Rockies face three contractual options after the season:

  • Right fielder Brad Hawpe has a $10MM club option with a $500K buyout.  Hawpe has been a consistent offensive producer, so the option is not out of line if you're OK with his defense.  The Rockies, boasting the game's best outfield depth, still could decline.
  • Starter Jeff Francis has a $7MM club option.  Francis is set to toss a Double A rehab game Thursday as he makes his way back from shoulder surgery.  The Rockies are likely to decline the option.
  • Catcher Miguel Olivo has a $2.5MM club option with a $500K buyout, though the option may become mutual based on games played.  Back in November of '08, Olivo and the Royals pulled off one of the rare instances of both sides exercising a mutual option.  If he stays, Chris Iannetta's future will remain murky.

The Rockies have five other free agents: Jorge de la Rosa, Jason Giambi, Melvin Mora, Joe Beimel, and Randy Flores.  The group earns $10.125MM in 2010.  The Rockies also gain $6MM with Todd Helton's restructured contract and $750K in buyouts they won't be paying next year for Yorvit Torrealba and Alan Embree.  Assuming Francis, De La Rosa, Giambi, Mora, Beimel, and Flores leave, that's $22.625MM off the books.

On the increase side, we'll assume Hawpe and Olivo stay.  Ubaldo Jimenez, Troy Tulowitzki, and others get minor raises, for a total of $9.1MM extra.  They'll also have to pay Ian Stewart as a first-time arbitration-eligible player, Jason Hammel for his second time, and Clint Barmes, Taylor Buchholz, and Matt Belisle as third-timers.

If the Rockies retain all the arbitration-eligibles and follow the other scenarios laid out above, they'll have over $7MM to work with without raising payroll.  They could put that money toward De La Rosa, or else figure out a way to replace him as they're doing now.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.

2011 Contract Issues: Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox face four contractual options after the season:

  • Designated hitter David Ortiz has a $12.5MM club option.  This will be declined.
  • Third baseman Adrian Beltre has a $5MM player option that increases to $10MM with 640 plate appearances.  It'll be tough to reach that plate appearance benchmark, and if the option remains at $5MM it'll be an easier choice for Beltre to decline.  He gets a $1MM buyout for reaching 575 PAs. 
  • Bill Hall has a $9.25MM club option with a $500K buyout.  Doug Melvin signed Hall to this extension in February of '07.  Here in 2010, Theo Epstein won't be considering the option.
  • Reliever Scott Atchison has a $440K club option with a $10K buyout.  He's currently with Pawtucket.

The Sox have four additional free agents: Mike Lowell, Victor Martinez, Jason Varitek, and Scott Schoeneweis.  They earn a total of $23.2MM this year.  Around $46MM will come off the books if everyone leaves.  There are also a few decreases to consider – $2MM for Tim Wakefield if he fails to reach 130 innings, and $6.25MM for John Lackey assuming his signing bonus was paid up front.  2010 obligations to former players total $10.5MM (Julio Lugo, Billy Wagner, and Alex Gonzalez).  If everyone leaves, and we add in the decreases and money to former players, the Red Sox free up around $64.75MM.  I assume things look different for luxury tax purposes, but we're keeping it simple.

The Red Sox have five players under contract getting raises: Kevin Youkilis, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, and Josh Beckett.  Those raises total $10.525MM.  Boston also has Jacoby Ellsbury going to arbitration for the first time, Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez, Manny Delcarmen, and Boof Bonser in the second-time group, and Jonathan Papelbon and Jeremy Hermida as third-timers.  We'll assume this results in $10MM worth of raises. 

By my estimate, the Red Sox would have more than $40MM to work, holding payroll steady.  It's more complicated than what I've done here, but they'll be able to address catcher, third base, and designated hitter without a big payroll increase.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.

2011 Contract Issues: Cincinnati Reds

The Reds face a slew of contractual options after the season:

  • Aaron Harang has a $12.75MM club option with a $2MM buyout.  The option price increases by $250K if Harang reaches 210 innings.  Plus, both the option price and buyout increase if he's traded.  If Harang stays with the Reds through the season, they'll decline.
  • Bronson Arroyo has an $11MM club option with a $2MM buyout.  The option can increase to $13MM based on innings pitched.  I envision the Reds declining this as well, giving them flexibility to sign a veteran replacement.
  • Shortstop Orlando Cabrera has a $4MM mutual option, with a buyout that can be worth either $0.5MM or $1MM.  It'll probably be the latter, assuming the player exercises and the club declines.
  • Catcher Ramon Hernandez has a $3.25MM option that vests with 120 games.  Assuming Ryan Hanigan stays healthy, this won't vest.
  • Outfielder Jonny Gomes has a $1.75MM club option with a buyout ranging from $50K to $200K based on plate appearances.

The Reds have three other free agents in Arthur Rhodes, Mike Lincoln, and Miguel Cairo.  The trio earns $5MM this year.  All told the Reds will clear just under $30MM if all of these players are allowed to leave, accounting for buyouts.

The Reds have $4.76MM in increases to players under contract, most of it going to Brandon Phillips.  They'll also owe first-time arbitration raises to Joey Votto, Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Micah Owings, and Bill BrayJared Burton and Laynce Nix will be in the second-time class.  It'll cost over $10MM extra to retain the key players, with Votto getting the biggest bump.

Holding payroll steady and allowing all free agents to leave, the Reds should have over $10MM to work with.  They'll have a lot of holes to fill.  If the Reds are out of the race in a few months, saving $5-10MM in salary dumps would go a long way for 2011.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.

2011 Contract Issues: Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays face two contractual options after the season:

  • Reliever Dan Wheeler has a $4MM club option with a $1MM buyout.  Wheeler is homer-prone, but he's somehow kept hits off the board in his best years.  He's also struggled against lefties at times.  The Rays may have better ways of spending the $3MM net price.
  • Infielder Willy Aybar has a $2.2MM club option with a $275K buyout.  For the Rays this is a matter of determining what Aybar would otherwise earn as a member of the third-time arbitration class.

The Rays have a huge slate of important free agents, headlined by Carlos Pena, Carl CrawfordPat Burrell, and Rafael SorianoGrant Balfour, Gabe Kapler, and Randy Choate will also be eligible.  The group earns about $40.4MM this year, more than half the Rays' payroll.  If Wheeler departs, $43.4MM will come off the books.

Increases to players under contract check in around $7.9MM, led by Ben Zobrist.  The total increase would reach $8.7MM if Aybar's option is exercised.  The Rays arbitration-eligibles include Andy Sonnanstine as a first-timer and Matt Garza, B.J. Upton, and J.P. Howell as big-name second-timers.  Jason Bartlett and Dioner Navarro would go for a third time, Lance Cormier a fourth.  The Rays may be inclined to lock up Garza.   They could potentially tack on $10MM retaining their key arbitration-eligibles.

Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said in February payroll will drop back under $60MM next year, from this year's $72.8MM range.  Holding payroll steady would've given the Rays over $20MM to fill vacancies from Crawford, Pena, or Soriano, or retain one or two of them.  Most of that free cash could disappear with a payroll cut, leading the Rays to turn to their deep farm system for the next wave of cheap talent.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.