Arbitration Eligibles: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are next in our arbitration eligibles series.

Should Kershaw win the Cy Young award, our model projects a record-shattering first-time pitcher salary of $8.4MM.  Tim Lincecum had two Cy Youngs under his belt when he submitted for $13MM against the Giants' $8MM figure in February of 2010.  We know Lincecum would have gotten one of those two figures had he not signed an extension.  Kershaw's agents, the Hendricks brothers, could position their client as Lincecum Lite.  Kershaw won't have the two Cys but he will have almost 120 more innings, seven more wins, and pretty much the same ERA Lincecum did.

Kemp could bring an MVP award or at least a lot of votes to the arbitration table.  Matt Swartz's work for MLBTR has shown that MVP and Cy Young awards boost salary more for first-time arbitration eligibles, so Kemp's huge payday may come mostly from his stellar stats.  The model projects a $16.3MM salary for Kemp, though admittedly a $9.35MM raise might be a tough sell for his agent Dave Stewart.  Matt explained to me, "There's just no one in recent history who has the kind of AVG/SB combined with the HR/RBI like Kemp, so he’s basically getting a Prince Fielder/Ryan Howard raise and a B.J. Upton/Corey Patterson raise at the same time."  Matt notes that the Kemp and Kershaw projections have the widest error bars, because there is so little precedent for them.

Ethier will be well-paid as well; he projects at $10.7MM.  That represents a pretty small raise from the last year of his two-year deal, as Ethier was lacking in counting stats this year.  A few days ago, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told ESPN's Jim Bowden he's not inclined to trade Ethier.  Colletti said in September he'd love to have Loney back; we think the first baseman could get $6.5MM in arbitration.  Kuo, a non-tender candidate, projects at a salary reduction to about $2.5MM.  Gwynn is on the bubble as well; he could make $1.1MM in arbitration.

If all six arbitration eligible Dodgers are retained, the total could reach a staggering $45MM.  But if Loney, Kuo, and Gwynn are deemed too expensive at arbitration prices, that'd trim about $10MM.  Cot's Baseball Contracts shows contractual commitments totaling $46.2MM for 2012, including $11.5MM for Manny Ramirez and Andruw Jones.  Even the high-end arbitration estimate puts the Dodgers around $90MM before accounting for minimum salary players, and that's $30MM below the 2011 Opening Day payroll.  Further savings could be found through trades or non-tenders, or reduced salaries in long-term deals for Kershaw and/or Kemp.  The team's ownership turmoil figures to result in a reduced payroll, but Colletti seems to think he can afford some significant free agents.

Matt Swartz contributed to this post.


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27 Comments on "Arbitration Eligibles: Los Angeles Dodgers"


4dracng
3 years 10 months ago

will be interesting to see how all of this works out with the ownership up in the air. the dodgers have some good core players, but will have a hard time paying for the missing pieces. maybe it would be a good time to trim some payroll and rebuild for the future. the farm teams are pretty depleted, and the ownership problems will definitely hurt them trying to  attract significant free agents. kind of a tough call.

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
3 years 10 months ago

We don’t actually know this. The team is under the control of MLB, not Frank McCourt at this point. We should at least consider the possibility that MLB intends to operate the team in anticipation of a post-McCourt ownership.

notsureifsrs
3 years 10 months ago

i think there are a handful of savvy clubs that would scramble to pick up kuo if he were non-tendered

the only thing i have to say about kershaw is that he is ridiculous. the
kid is 23 — same age as strasburg — but he’s been
pitching like strasburg for three years at the big
league level already

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
3 years 10 months ago

Kuo doesn’t even know if he wants to pitch next year. If he does decide to play, after last season’s debacle I think he gets a minor league deal or a non-roster invite to spring training.

vtadave
3 years 10 months ago

Yep…no chance he’s tendered. Scott Elbert is the lefty now, but if Kuo gets a minor league deal and impresses in Glendale, great.

Casor_Greener
3 years 10 months ago

Despite all the criticism against Frank McCourt the Dodgers haven’t been that bad…

And if you think he is the only sports owner using his team as a piggy bank, I bet you think Republicans really want to cut spending and Democrats really care about the common man

Gumby65
3 years 10 months ago

Sure legitimate outright owners can responsibly use funds from their team…

Notice Frank McCourt doesn’t fit any criteria from the above statement.

58
3 years 10 months ago

how much of a team icon is kershaw? Lincecum is huge in SF
lincecum had a better year than kershaw last year as did others. so how much is one year worth?

Gumby65
3 years 10 months ago

The fact of the matter is not “what is one year worth” when you take into consideration he’s only 23 and for 3 years we’ve been awaiting the arrival of the monster that showed up this season.  It wasn’t an “IF”, it was “WHEN”, and that was this year.

58
3 years 10 months ago

so we just ignore his last three years and say this year was not an anomaly. I ma fine with that, however if I had money on this i would wait to see what he does in 2012 before I gave him big bucks.  PItching is full of one year wonders

Gumby65
3 years 10 months ago

1. so we just ignore his last three years and say this year was not an anomaly = Yes
2. PItching is full of one year wonders True, but…
Google Clayton Kershaw.

vtadave
3 years 10 months ago

Thing is, he’s going to get teh “big bucks” regardless of what the Dodgers decide – long-term deal, one-year settlement, or arbitration hearing.  And yes, this year was not the “anomaly” at all. Kershaw was a top-7 draft pick and demonstrated this type of upside before this year. 2011 though, it all came together – well, actually halfway through 2010 that is.

58
3 years 10 months ago

Lincecum has been in pro baseball for the same amount of time as kershaw. 
i’d still rather have lincecum and his four years
linceum- 69-41, 2.98 ERA, 2.93 FIP in 1028 innings, 28.6 WAR. kershaw-47-28, 2.88 ERA, 3.04 FIP in 716 innings, 17.3 WAR.

Dodgerbluez
3 years 10 months ago

And they have NOT been in the bigs the same amount of time Tim came up a year before 2007-2011 Clayton 2008-2011 and Tim also has 38 more career starts then Clayton..Also due to Torre babying him.. Witch is not a bad thing.. They have the same winning%. Tim is awesome but Ill take a 4 year younger Claw with better mechanics any day..

vtadave
3 years 10 months ago

Exactly. Age plays a huge part in this. It’s great that Lincecum has won a couple of Cy Young’s, but after Kershaw gets his first this year, I’ll wager a bundle on his being the better pitcher going forward.

thegrayrace
3 years 10 months ago

In what sense did Lincecum have a better year than Kershaw in 2010?

Kershaw: 2.91 ERA / 1.18 WHIP / .214 BAA
Lincecum: 3.43 ERA / 1.27 WHIP / .242 BAA

Lincecum had slightly better BB/9 and K/9, but that’s it. Huge advantage in BAA and ERA for Kershaw.

58
3 years 10 months ago

WAR, strikeouts, wins, IP

Dodgerbluez
3 years 10 months ago

BOOOO… Yeah cause Timmy 2010 IP-212 to Clayton 2010 IP-204.. LOL  Timmy 2010 SO-231 to Clayton 2010 SO-212… Hes also 4 years younger….once again BOOOO… Your arguments suck.. Check stats and learn about baseball before you speak..

Dodgerbluez
3 years 10 months ago

Back to back 200k and 200 inning years 3rd year in a row under 3 ERA career 2.88 ERA.. Yeah a 1 year wonder huh.. WOW.. No Torre holding him back this year and looked what he did..

58
3 years 10 months ago

you blame torre?

Dodgerbluez
3 years 10 months ago

Blame him for what?…….  Torre used to pull Kershaw if his pitch count got up to 70.. Would never let him pitch himself out of a jam.. Alls I said was now that Torre is not there to pull the reigns, he went off this years.. Even with Torre pulling him early he was still dominant..

Amish_willy
3 years 10 months ago

That’s odd. He averaged 106 pitches/start last year compared to 105 this year. He cut his average pitches/PA from 3.98 in 2010 to 3.78 in 2011.  Or to put another way, in 2010 he threw more then 100 pitches in 27 outtings compared to only doing so 24 times this year. He grew as a pitcher, simple as that.

Gumby65
3 years 10 months ago

ignore, meant to be a reply sry

j6takish
3 years 10 months ago

That would actually be a huge waste of money. As good as Kershaw is, he is still a pre-arbitration player under team control for a long while. He is making league minimum right now, and even though he is going to get a sizeable raise, a “sizeable” raise for him might only be 2-4mm. Verlander and Felix make about 20mm per year, Lincecum has 2 Cy Youngs and was the game 1 starter in a World series and he is lucky to get 19mm in arbitration. If you give him the Verlander/Felix deal, you’re going to be over paying him by about 60mm over the course of the contract.
A Romero/Gallardo extension is much more likely

j6takish
3 years 10 months ago

Also, you have no idea how weird it was prefacing an argument for locking up Kershaw by saying “it would be a huge waste of money”

Casor_Greener
3 years 10 months ago

And you don’t know how weird it is to see you try and pass off flawed information as accurate.

Doesn’t the article state 8.3M is possible, which would be approx 8M raise not the 2-3 you are talking. Adding in Lincecum’s numbers of $14M for 2 years and then free agent years of 20M, how do you get a $60M excess over the course of the contract. Hernandez was for 5 years and 78 million, not $20M a year.

Pretty much everything you said is wrong

BlueSkyLA
BlueSkyLA
3 years 10 months ago

In a buyout situation, both the player and the team are working from the same math: how much the player would be likely to receive in arbitration for his remaining years, and how much he is likely to get in free agency after that. Whether the number they arrive at out turns out to be a bargain or a bust for the team depends entirely on whether the player performs at, above or below the expected level. So the bottom line is, you can’t really know until well after the fact.