2012 Contract Issues Rumors

2012 Contract Issues Series

The 2012 Contract Issues series is complete.  Below are links to our posts for each team, as well as a brief summary of what they face after the season.  Please take the estimated 2012 payroll flexibility numbers with a large grain of salt, because those figures involve me making assumptions on arbitration awards, options, and payrolls and do not reflect possible trades.

AL East

  • Orioles: Slew of veteran free agents in Vlad, Derrek Lee, Mike Gonzalez, Hardy. Jones, Guthrie, Scott due big arb raises. Could have $18MM+ to spend.
  • Red Sox: Major free agents include Drew, Ortiz, and Papelbon.  Ellsbury is biggest arb case.  Plenty of needs but only $23MM in estimated payroll flexibility, and must deal with luxury tax.
  • Yankees: Have to decide whether to re-sign Colon and/or Garcia; rotation will face huge uncertainty in likely event Sabathia opts out. Tough option decision on Swisher; Cashman could have $50MM to work with if declined.
  • Rays: Record-setting arb case for Price; arb raise due to Upton. Retaining all option and arb eligible players would require a payroll increase; major creativity required here.
  • Blue Jays: Club options on three relievers plus Hill; notable arb cases in Escobar and Morrow. Should have $24MM+ to spend.

AL Central

  • White Sox: Rotation questions with Buehrle and Jackson due for free agency; also Pierre. Solid arb raises due to Danks and Quentin; $13MM to spend unless payroll is raised or there's a trade.
  • Indians: Options on Sizemore and Carmona; big arb cases for Masterson, Choo, Chris Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera. Retaining all key players would bring them to '11 payroll level, but playoff run would create some flexibility.
  • Tigers: Estimated $13MM in flexibility unless payroll is raised.  Scherzer in line for large raise as first-time arb player.
  • Royals: Opening Day rotation may be mostly replaced by top prospects; solid stopgaps Betemit and Francoeur up for free agency also.  Arb raise due to Gordon; sticky situation with affordable Soria option.  Could easily find $40MM+ to spend this offseason.
  • Twins: Five regular players hitting free agency; arb decisions due on Liriano and Young.  Estimated $30MM to spend but lots of needs.

AL West

  • Angels: Pineiro is biggest free agent; nice arb raise due to Kendrick and possibly a historic one to Weaver.  Should still have $24MM to spend.
  • Athletics: Likely that 60% of team's regular position players reach free agency. Large arb class headed by Gio Gonzalez and Bailey.  Might have $17MM to spend but lots of openings.
  • Mariners: Bedard is most notable free agent; pitchers Vargas and League due arb raises. Should have $20MM+ to spend.
  • Rangers: Crucial free agent in C.J. Wilson, and expensive arb raises coming for Cruz, Napoli, and others. No payroll flexibility even without Wilson unless payroll is raised significantly.

NL East

  • Braves: Notable arb case for Jurrjens; could have $15MM to put toward tinkering. More available if a starter is dealt.
  • Marlins: Disappointing free agents in Vazquez, Infante. Anibal Sanchez, Leo Nunez biggest arb cases.  Would have less than $10MM to spend with $70MM payroll.
  • Mets: Reyes, Beltran, and possibly K-Rod up for free agency if either is still around at season's end.  Solid arb raise due to Pelfrey. Would have $20MM to play with even with a drop to a $100MM payroll; future of franchise hinges on Picard lawsuit.
  • Phillies: Rollins, Madson are key free agents; Oswalt has mutual option. Massive arb raise due for Hamels; could still have $38MM to spend.
  • Nationals: Limited flexibility once decent arb class is accounted for, until the team gets a payroll bump.

NL Central

  • Cubs: Fukudome, Pena, Ramirez likely to depart as free agents; Dempster has player option. Notable arb cases for Soto, Garza. Even with Dempster they'd have over $60MM to spend if payroll is maintained, opening up possibility for big offseason led by bidding on Pujols or Fielder.
  • Reds: Option on Phillips; less than $10MM to spend if he's retained.
  • Astros: Big arb cases in Pence and Bourn; would leave less than $10MM to spend unless Crane raises payroll to previous levels.
  • Brewers: Expected to lose Fielder; big arb raise coming for Marcum.  May have only $10-15MM to spend.
  • Pirates: Lots of club options, most will be declined. Morton, Hanrahan up for arb; should have at least $25MM to spend.
  • Cardinals: Free agent monsters in Pujols and Berkman plus a tough option decision on Carpenter. Rasmus, Garcia enter arb.  Declining Carp would give about $26MM to spend, most of which would have to go to Pujols.

NL West

  • Diamondbacks: Kelly Johnson a free agent; Saunders a non-tender candidate. Should have over $20MM to spend.
  • Rockies: No big free agent or arb cases. Could have around $12MM to spend.
  • Dodgers: Kuroda eligible for free agency and uncertainty in the infield.  Large raises due for Kershaw, Kemp, and Ethier in arb; Loney may be non-tendered.  Maintaining payroll could leave $37MM to spend, though that could be reduced assuming ownership remains in flux.
  • Padres: Veteran free agents: Bell, Ludwick, Harang, Hawpe, Qualls. Adams, Gregerson, Stauffer lead a large arb group. Arb paydays could leave less than $10MM to spend.
  • Giants: Ground-breaking arb case for Lincecum; Sandoval and Sanchez also eligible. Even with several position players up for free agency, payroll flexibility appears to be under $10MM.

2012 Contract Issues: Minnesota Twins

The Twins conclude our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (4)

  • Michael Cuddyer hasn't been especially productive since 2009, so retaining him only makes sense at a drastic pay cut from this year's $10.5MM salary.
  • Though the Twins' 2012 bullpen is even less settled than their current one, investing in Matt Capps as the anchor might not be the best move.  He figures to look to at least match this year's $7MM salary on a multiyear deal.
  • Jason Kubel is among a handful of Twins having a solid year.  He's affordable too, giving him decent trade value.  Kubel could find his way to Type A status, and an arbitration offer would be justified, so the Twins may prefer to sort out his situation after the season.
  • Jim Thome is seven home runs from 600 and probably would not be traded before reaching that milestone.  Since he wouldn't fetch a ton anyway, the best course may be to keep him unless he prefers to play for a contender.

Contract Options (1)

  • Joe Nathan: $12.5MM club option with a $2MM buyout.  Perhaps Nathan will want to continue his Twins career, but it won't be by way of this option.

Arbitration Eligible (9)

A few of these players won't make it past the non-tender deadline.  The big cases belong to Young, Liriano, and Slowey.  Young's terrible season could earn him a non-tender, or else a modest raise to the $6.5MM range.  I can't picture Liriano being non-tendered, as his salary could sit around $5MM.  Slowey, the most likely to be dealt, could come in around $3.5MM.  Perkins and Mijares also seem likely to be tendered contracts.  In total I'll put the group around $17MM, though several of these players could wind up on other teams by December.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Twins' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $65.75MM.  Throw in $17MM for arbitration eligibles and we're around $83MM, about $30MM shy of this year's payroll before accounting for minimum salary players.  The Twins could shed millions more through trades or non-tenders.  I imagine they'll be built to contend for 2012, which should mean expenditures on the bullpen, outfield, middle infield, third base, and designated hitter.

2012 Contract Issues: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (5)

  • Carlos Guillen had knee surgery in September, and coupled with recent back tightness there's no timetable for his 2011 debut.  It's safe to say the Tigers will be moving on.
  • Magglio Ordonez is on the DL for right ankle weakness.  Surgery on that ankle ended his 2010 season in July.  His '11 season is too much of an unknown to make any predictions for '12.
  • Brad Penny has already topped last year's nine starts, though his peripheral stats suggest an ERA close to 5.00.  I imagine Penny will keep getting chances.
  • Joel Zumaya had exploratory elbow surgery this month and may not return this season.  The Tigers won't be re-signing the hard-throwing righty, wrote SI's Jon Heyman.
  • Utility infielder Ramon Santiago is also eligible for free agency.

Contract Options (1)

  • Jose Valverde: $9MM club option with no buyout.  Should the closer's success continue, the Tigers will probably exercise his option.

Arbitration Eligible (6)

Porcello, Scherzer, Coke, and Perry are the significant cases.  Porcello has a cheap club option for '12, though I imagine he can and will choose arbitration instead.  Scherzer has built a strong resume, and while he's not in Clayton Kershaw/David Price territory he could get $4MM.  Porcello, starting from a higher salary than most pitchers, could reach the same level.  Coke and Perry should be more affordable.  In total I'll estimate $11MM for the four.   

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Tigers' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $73.875MM.  Add in Valverde and the arbitration eligibles and they're around $94MM, $13MM shy of the 2011 payroll before accounting for minimum salary players.  The Tigers' payroll has topped $130MM a couple of times, so there might be additional flexibility.

2012 Contract Issues: Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (6)

  • J.D. Drew owns a line of .268/.376/.468 in 2,243 plate appearances as a member of the Red Sox.  Drew has provided value, but he'll be 36 in November and his power is declining.  In March he talked about retirement as a possibility.  There's a good chance the Red Sox look outside the organization for a replacement.
  • Designated hitter David Ortiz had been a slow starter since 2008, but he was decent in April this year and has been killing it in May.  Ortiz wants to finish his career with the Red Sox, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote in March that the team is "itching to abandon a full-time DH and initiate a rotation at that position."  Last offseason the decision on Ortiz's option was entirely in the team's hands, but this winter he could field offers elsewhere, especially if the Sox remain reluctant to guarantee two years.
  • Closer Jonathan Papelbon has been dominant, with an 11.8 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 20 2/3 innings.  Daniel Bard has been solid, but other possible late-inning holdovers like Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler have not.  Papelbon would be a big loss, but in free agency he figures to seek at least a three-year deal in the $36MM range.  In March, Papelbon told Rosenthal it's "50-50" and "a tossup" that he will remain in Boston.
  • Mike Cameron has served mainly as Drew's platoon partner this year, appearing in 15 games overall.  Cameron hinted to WEEI's Alex Speier that he hasn't ruled out retirement after the season, but now is not the time for that decision.
  • Catcher Jason Varitek told MLB.com's Ian Browne in February he wants to play into his 40s, so he'll probably re-sign as Boston's backup if they'll have him.
  • Tim Wakefield replaced John Lackey in the rotation, though Lackey may come off the DL on June 5th.  Wakefield's stance on retiring after the season seems to have softened, given comments made in October, December, and January.  The active career wins leader by a long shot, Wakefield is only six from 200. 

Contract Options (2)

  • Marco Scutaro: $6MM club option/$3MM player option with a $1.5MM buyout.  Scutaro is often mentioned as a trade candidate.  His club seems likely to decline their end of the option.  In that case Scutaro may prefer to take the buyout and have the flexibility to choose his team.
  • Dan Wheeler: $3MM+ vesting option.  Wheeler has struggled this year in terms of home runs and hits allowed, but his 2012 option vests with 53 more appearances.  A May stint on the disabled list probably means he'll be a free agent after the season.

Arbitration Eligible (9)

Bard, Lowrie, Ellsbury, and Saltalamacchia are the biggest cases here, though the Sox may end up tendering contracts to all but Atchison.  I'll put the group as a whole around $14MM.

2012 Payroll Obligation

Boston's 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $126.934MM including Scutaro's buyout.  Throw in $14MM for arbitration eligibles, and we're about $23MM shy of this year's payroll before accounting for minimum salary players.  Possible needs include right field, designated hitter, the rotation, and the bullpen.  It would be hard to add premium players in free agency to fill these needs if the flexibility is around $23MM in 2012 salaries.

Of course, the Red Sox do not calculate payroll in the simplistic way I just did.  Perhaps no team does, but Boston's payroll requires extra maneuvering because of the luxury tax.  Still, the use of AAVs instead of salaries again puts the Sox around $125MM in commitments before arbitration eligibles are accounted for.  I think the Red Sox will have to raise payroll or backload the contract if they are to get involved on, say, C.C. Sabathia.  Perhaps instead of free agency the Red Sox will lean toward trades, where the main expenditure would be prospects rather than money.    

2012 Contract Issues: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (11)

  • Starter Hiroki Kuroda, 36, is rolling along with another strong season.  I'm guessing the Dodgers will have another shot to sign him to a one-year deal after the season, as Kuroda has a full no-trade clause.
  • Jonathan Broxton lost the closer job again this season, and he's currently on the DL with an elbow injury.  At one point he seemed destined for a monster free agent contract, but instead he might want a one-year deal to rebuild value.
  • Rod Barajas leads all NL catchers with seven home runs, though it doesn't get much worse than a .260 OBP.  The Dodgers may give some thought to re-signing him on a one-year deal.
  • Jamey Carroll has been quite valuable filling in for Rafael Furcal; his .374 OBP leads all MLB shortstops.  Carroll should top his last two-year deal and ought to seek a team that will play him every day.  Before then, he could be popular at the trade deadline.
  • Vicente Padilla had the Dodgers' closer role for a short period of time, but then landed on the DL with more forearm concerns.  We'll have to see how the rest of his season goes before assessing his value.
  • Lance Cormier has been terrible, and might not make it to the end of the season with the Dodgers.
  • Dioner Navarro missed most of April with an oblique injury and hasn't done anything yet.
  • Marcus Thames hasn't played much this year due to a quad injury.  Vision problems have sidelined Jay Gibbons.
  • Mike MacDougal is doing his usual tightrope act, but the beleaguered Dodgers bullpen needs him right now.
  • Aaron Miles is also eligible for free agency.  The Dodgers could see quite a bit of turnover next year.

Contract Options (3)

  • Rafael Furcal: $12MM club option with a $1.3MM buyout.  Furcal's latest Dodgers contract has been a frustrating one due to injuries.  I can't picture the Dodgers exercising this, and I can envision them moving him this summer depending on what his no-trade clause allows.
  • Casey Blake: $6MM club option with a $1.25MM buyout.  Blake is finishing up rehab for an elbow injury.  He was hitting well before that in a small sample.
  • Jon Garland: $8MM club option with a $500K buyout; vests with 190 IP.  At his current pace, another 22 or 23 starts would not be enough for Garland to reach 190 innings.  It'd be the first time he's failed to do so since he was a reliever a decade ago.  I don't picture the Dodgers exercising at a $7.5MM net price.

Arbitration Eligible (7)

The Dodgers have an interesting arbitration group.  Kershaw should top Jered Weaver's first-time record for a starting pitcher, though David Price may beat Kershaw and in a way the record is technically and should remain the Giants' $8MM filing for Tim Lincecum last year.  Kemp and Ethier both kept their final arbitration years open, and now it's time to get paid.  Ethier is operating from a higher salary point, but each player should be able to exceed $12MM.  Targets for their agents may include Mark Teixeira's $12.5MM in '08 or even Prince Fielder's $15.5MM this year. 

Loney probably should have been non-tendered or dealt last offseason; he's highly unlikely to be tendered a contract this time.  Kuo, on the DL with anxiety disorder, is an unknown.  Troncoso and Gwynn could be cut, though they wouldn't cost much to retain.  For my rough estimate I'll put Kershaw at $6MM and Kemp and Ethier at $13MM each, plus Kuo at $3MM for a total of $35MM.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Dodgers' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $48MM if you include all three buyouts on the options.  Our arbitration estimate puts them at $83MM, a solid $37MM short of this year's payroll without considering minimum salary players.  The big question, of course, is the team's ownership situation.  If by November Bud Selig successfully removes Frank McCourt from the picture entirely and installs a new owner, the Dodgers figure to be major players in free agency.  If not, I have to think payroll would be cut.  In that case GM Ned Colletti would still have some spending money, just not for the big names.

2012 Contract Issues: Arizona Diamondbacks

The surging Diamondbacks are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (4)

Contract Options (3)

  • Zach Duke: $5.5MM club option with a $750K buyout.  Duke is currently rehabbing in the minors after breaking his pitching hand in mid-March.  If the lefty is to be retained at a $4.75MM net price, he'll need a solid four months.
  • Henry Blanco: $1.15MM mutual option with a $250K buyout.
  • Willie Bloomquist: $1.1MM mutual option with a $150K buyout.  Kevin Towers dished out three mutual options last offseason, the most of any team.  This was just a way to push $400K onto next year's payroll. 

Arbitration Eligible (8)

Parra and Roberts will be on the Super Two borderline, assuming it is around two years and 146 days.  Saunders is the big money case, as he's working from a $5.5MM salary.  However, if he continues along with an ERA over 5.00, he'll probably be non-tendered.   Montero will still provide good value, though the catcher's salary could climb past $5MM.  Gutierrez's salary should remain reasonable, while Wilson, Owings, and Burroughs will probably be cut loose.  If Saunders is cut, Arizona's arbitration eligibles shouldn't cost much more than $8MM.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Diamondbacks' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $28.908MM if Duke's option is declined.  Throw in $8MM for arbitration eligibles and the D'Backs are still about $20MM under their 2011 payroll before accounting for minimum salary players.  The payroll exceeded $70MM in each of the two previous years, and a return to that level would give Towers over $30MM in 2012 salaries to work with.

2012 Contract Issues: New York Yankees

The Yankees are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (6)

  • In one of the year's biggest surprises, Bartolo Colon's name is all over the leaderboard for free agent starters.  An offseason stem cell treatment was a factor, a procedure that was unknown to GM Brian Cashman at the time of the signing and is being investigated by MLB.  If Colon is not linked to HGH and his stellar pitching continues for the remaining three quarters of the season, he has to be looking at at least a nice one-year deal north of $5MM.
  • Jorge Posada has been a source of drama but not offensive production this season.  I'm guessing the Yankees move on from Posada, who has hit 267 home runs for them to date.
  • Former stars Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez are bench players on one-year deals; Chavez was hitting well when he hit the DL for a foot injury.
  • Freddy Garcia has a 3.22 ERA on the season, hanging in there in most of his six starts.  Will he do enough to warrant a big league deal after the season?
  • Luis Ayala will also be eligible for free agency.    

Contract Options (5)

  • Robinson Cano: $14MM club option with a $2MM buyout.  This should be an easy decision to exercise for the Yankees.
  • Nick Swisher: $10.25MM club option with a $1MM buyout.  Swisher's option seemed like an easy choice to exercise, but his bat has yet to come alive in 160 plate appearances this year.  He's got time to bounce back, but the option is not a lock.    
  • Damaso Marte: $4MM club option with a $250K buyout.  Marte is likely out for the season with October labrum surgery, in which case the Yankees will have gotten 31 innings for their $12MM.
  • C.C. Sabathia: Can opt out of remaining four years, $92MM.  Most expect Sabathia to opt out, though he certainly could re-sign with the Yankees.  GM Brian Cashman told ESPN's Buster Olney he'll stick with his policy of avoiding in-season negotiations, but "we fully expect him to be here."  Sabathia's overall numbers look solid, though he's scuffled in May.  If Sabathia does reach the open market, he'll probably be the best available free agent starter, as he was in the 2008-09 offseason when he received the biggest contract ever for a pitcher.
  • Rafael Soriano: Can opt out of remaining two years, $25MM.  Even without knowledge of Soriano's current elbow concerns, I wrote two months ago that Soriano is unlikely to opt out of his contract after the season.  This offseason when he does choose to stick with the contract, don't blame the opt-out clause.  Without it, all the money still would have been guaranteed to him.      

Arbitration Eligible (8)

From the Yankees' standpoint, none of these cases should be daunting.  This is only Gardner's second full season, and he doesn't have power, so his arbitration reward will probably be $3MM or less.  Hughes' issues will limit his raise to perhaps a million dollars at most.  Raises for relievers Robertson, Chamberlain, and Logan won't be crazy either.  Martin's hot hitting has tailed off this month.  He could still get a bump to $6MM+, depending on how the rest of his season goes.  I'll use a rough estimate of $17MM to retain the team's arbitration eligibles.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Yankees' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $140.875MM if options for Swisher and Marte are declined, Cano's option is exercised, Sabathia opts out, and Soriano does not.  That goes up to around $158MM with the arbitration eligibles, about $49MM short of this year's payroll before accounting for minimum salary players.  If Sabathia is re-signed at a $25MM salary for 2012, that still leaves $24MM in '12 salaries to work with before raising payroll.  That'd be enough for Swisher or a replacement, as well as some kind of starting pitching signing to go with Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Ivan Nova.  Cashman could find $6MM more with a bump to the 2010 payroll of $213MM. 

The Yankees should be able to address their issues without taking payroll much higher.  If Sabathia leaves, it could be another situation where they struggle to find a good way to spend the excess cash.

2012 Contract Issues: Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (6)

  • Prince Fielder may have to share the free agent spotlight with Albert Pujols, C.C. Sabathia, and Jose Reyes.  But Fielder, a 27-year-old Scott Boras client, brings an elite bat to the open market.  Boras has to be targeting Mark Teixeira's eight-year, $180MM deal, if not more.  The Brewers are not expected to be in the mix.
  • LaTroy Hawkins had shoulder surgery in August of last year, but he's been decent so far in a limited sample.  Sergio Mitre has a similar line involving a low ERA, a low strikeout rate, and a good amount of groundballs.    
  • Hamstring and oblique injuries should keep Takashi Saito out until June or so; he's only tossed two innings for the Brewers so far.  42 in February, DL stays are the norm for Saito but he's still good when healthy.
  • Bench players Craig Counsell and Mark Kotsay are eligible for free agency as well.

Contract Options (1)

  • Yuniesky Betancourt: $6MM club option with a $2MM buyout.  Brewers manager Ron Roenicke seems to be a fan of Betancourt's offense and defense, but the Royals won't be picking up $2MM of his $4MM net price in 2012.  I expect GM Doug Melvin to survey free agent alternatives.

Arbitration Eligible (9)

A few of these players will be cut loose by the non-tender deadline.  McGehee is a notable first-time case; he could get $2MM.  Marcum has been stellar, and a raise to the $8-9MM range is plausible.  I can see about $18MM to retain McGehee, Morgan, Loe, Parra, Marcum, and Gomez.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Brewers' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $58.08MM including Betancourt's buyout.  Retaining arbitration eligibles could bring the total to $76MM or so, leaving $8MM to spend aside from minimum salary players if payroll is maintained.  Melvin could have a few million more to work with if players such as Gomez and Parra are non-tendered or traded.  The 2010 payroll was $90MM; going back to that level or higher would create another $6MM+ to use.  Melvin will have some room to acquire a shortstop, first baseman, and a reliever or two, but it'd be surprising to see him in on any of the big names.

2012 Contract Issues: St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series, and their offseason should have plenty of intrigue.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (8)

  • Earlier this month, three GMs who spoke to SI's Jon Heyman predicted Albert Pujols would re-sign with the Cardinals after the season.  The situation seems to have gone dormant since Spring Training, but not in a discouraging way.  Perhaps coincidentally, Pujols is having the worst season of his career.  It's only about a quarter over, but should the slugger fail to reach the .400 OBP and .600 SLG for which he's typically been considered a lock, that would have to affect the price tag and make the Cardinals' offer (north of $200MM over nine years) more palatable.  Still, it's hard to picture Pujols not requiring a salary in the $24-26MM range.
  • Lance Berkman has proven last year's power outage to be a fluke; he's leading the NL with a .694 SLG.  He's close to the top in home runs, RBI, and OBP as well.  Should Berkman's health and amazing offense continue, maybe he'll have his eye on Paul Konerko's three-year, $37.5MM contract, which was similarly signed by a mid-30s player coming off a huge year.  I imagine he'll have to let the Cardinals resolve the Pujols situation first, if he's aiming to return.
  • Ryan Franklin seems headed for a minor league deal, as he's lost his closing job and has been battered in his first 13 2/3 innings.
  • The sample is tiny, but Trever Miller hasn't handled lefties well this year.  Miguel Batista is another Cardinals veteran reliever whose ERA is much better than his peripheral statistics.
  • Gerald Laird, Nick Punto, and Brian Tallet are also eligible for free agency.

Contract Options (3)

  • Chris Carpenter: $15MM club option with a $1MM buyout.  Though Carpenter's ERA is 4.95, his supporting stats are similar to last year's.  The Cardinals will have to decide on him before Pujols, most likely.  If Carpenter is healthy the Cards probably have to pick this up, knowing that they could at least trade the 36-year-old if need be.
  • Adam Wainwright: $9MM club option for 2012, $12MM club option for '13, must be either voided or exercised at the same time.  In his conversation with Heyman earlier this month, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak seemed to imply the team is planning to exercise Wainwright's options.  Barring any major setbacks it's an easy call.
  • Yadier Molina: $7MM club option with a $750K buyout.  This option seems likely to be exercised.

Arbitration Eligible (6)

The Cardinals have several notable arbitration cases, starting with Rasmus and Garcia.  Rasmus' career numbers should keep him at $3.5MM or less.  Garcia's numbers are limited by missing the '09 season, but he's having a fantastic year and should jump past $3MM (more on that from MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith this week).  Theriot and Schumaker are not locks to be tendered, but we'll see how the rest of the season plays out for them.  If everyone is retained I'm estimating around $18MM for the team's arbitration eligibles.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Cardinals' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $47.538MM not including the buyouts for Carpenter and Molina.  If the three options are picked up they'll be at $78.538MM, and the arbitration eligible group could bring commitments up to $97MM.  If payroll remains steady at $109MM, there's only about $12MM to work with before accounting for minimum salary players.  I'm sure the Cardinals have already worked out ways to fit in a salary exceeding $20MM for Pujols, whether by backloading, raising payroll, or not retaining Carpenter, Theriot, and Schumaker.  But if Pujols is re-signed it's hard to see where an eight-figure salary for Berkman fits in or how the Cardinals will have any significant money for other improvements.

2012 Contract Issues: Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (3)

  • The Rockies don't have any crucial players eligible for free agency after the season.  Jose Lopez is the closest to a regular, but he's been terrible this year.
  • Role players Jason Giambi and Alfredo Amezaga are also eligible for free agency.

Contract Options (1)

  • Aaron Cook: $11MM mutual option with a $500K buyout.  Cook is rehabbing from a shoulder injury and a broken finger.  The Rockies won't be exercising their side of this option.

Arbitration Eligible (6)

The Rockies' arbitration class lacks intrigue as well.  Smith and Fowler may have emerged as quality regulars, but they don't have robust career numbers and won't be paid a ton.  Stewart, Spilborghs, and Paulino have struggled mightily in the early going, so they'll be eyeing the non-tender deadline with trepidation. 

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Rockies' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $65.284MM.  This club is all about cost certainty.  We can throw in $6MM for first-timers Smith, Fowler, and Morales to get to the $71MM range, about $11MM short of this year's payroll.  One thing I haven't mentioned in these posts is that minimum-salary players require millions of dollars too, and they're not factored into these rough calculations.  At any rate, even if they let Stewart, Spilborghs, and Paulino go, the Rockies don't project to have much money to work with if they hold payroll steady.  That might be fine, because they have players they can pencil in at every spot.