2012 Contract Issues Rumors

2012 Contract Issues: Oakland Athletics

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

Eligible For Free Agency (7)

  • David DeJesus, Mark Ellis, Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, Hideki Matsui, and Conor Jackson have accounted for 729 plate appearances this year, about 54% of the team's total.  Throw in non-tender candidate Kevin Kouzmanoff and that rises past 60%, so the offense could see huge turnover.  Jackson is getting on base, and Willingham is showing some pop, but so far this large group of position players is failing offensively.  There is plenty of time to turn things around, and players such as Ellis, Crisp, and DeJesus are also valued for their defense.  Still, the team's top outfield prospects are not ready to make an impact in 2012, so offense could again be a problem.
  • Rich Harden is also eligible for free agency.

Contract Options (1)

  • Michael Wuertz: $3.25MM club option with a $250K buyout.  Wuertz missed time with shoulder and hamstring injuries, but he's been sharp in the early going.  The A's will probably pick up his option.

Arbitration Eligible (14)

There might be a few non-tenders here, such as Kouzmanoff, but this is a huge arbitration class for Oakland.  Bailey will not have the 100 career saves that Bobby Jenks and Jonathan Papelbon did, but he could still get $3MM+.  Barton may also be in that range, Braden should stay there, and Gonzalez could reach $4MM.  Sweeney, Breslow, and Ziegler could get close to $2MM each.  McCarthy is tough to predict, and keep in mind that these are just rough estimates in all cases.  Assuming only Kouzmanoff is cut loose I'll put this group in the $25MM range.    

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Athletics' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $24.238MM if Wuertz is retained.  Double that number to account for the arbitration eligibles, and the A's are about $17MM below this year's payrollJemile Weeks could take over at second base, but the team would need to figure out third base, DH, and all three outfield spots.  GM Billy Beane will probably have to work the trade market to find affordable, useful players for some of those openings.


2012 Contract Issues: Philadelphia Phillies

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

Eligible For Free Agency (7)

  • Raul Ibanez will probably be allowed to leave, freeing up some cash and leaving an opening in left field for the Phillies.
  • Shortstop Jimmy Rollins hasn't been a power guy for several years, but he is sporting a career-best walk rate currently.  There is a lot of baseball left to be played, but Rollins, 33 in November, could be the cheaper free agent alternative to Jose Reyes.  The Phils don't have an obvious replacement for Rollins.
  • Ryan Madson, a Scott Boras client, is four-for-four in save opportunities this year with Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras out.  Madson wants to finish his career with the Phillies and be a closer.  The team could let Lidge go and sign Madson for something like three years and $18MM.
  • Danys Baez, Brian Schneider, Ross Gload, and J.C. Romero will also be eligible for free agency.

Contract Options (2)

  • Roy Oswalt: $16MM mutual option with a $2MM buyout.  Oswalt is undecided on whether to play next year.  He's currently on the DL with back pain, so the option seems up in the air for both sides.
  • Brad Lidge: $12.5MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout.  Lidge is recovering from a shoulder injury; it's tough to see the Phillies picking this one up.

Arbitration Eligible (6)

Not all of these players will make it to the point of being tendered contracts.  The only lock is Hamels, who signed an extension in January of '09 but left his fourth arbitration year open.  He's working from a $9.5MM salary and having a strong year so far.  The arbitration cases of Tim Lincecum and Jered Weaver could be factors (more on those here and here), if one or both of them settles first.  $15MM is a reasonable estimate for Hamels, though.  Hamels wants to stay, but the team has yet to approach him about an extension.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Phillies' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $112.903MM including buyouts for Oswalt and Lidge.  If another $15MM goes to Hamels, they're at $128MM, about $38MM shy of this year's $166MM high water mark.  A lot of that money could be eaten up if Rollins, Madson, Oswalt, Kendrick, and Francisco are retained, which are open questions at this point.  The Phillies have flexibility if they maintain their payroll, but also have several crucial free agents and one huge arbitration case.


2012 Contract Issues: Kansas City Royals

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

Eligible For Free Agency (6)

  • Catchers Jason Kendall and Matt Treanor will be eligible for free agency, so look for the Royals to acquire a veteran backstop this offseason.
  • With Kyle Davies, Bruce Chen, and Jeff Francis signed through 2011, three-fifths of the club's current rotation will be up in the air.  The Royals might lose a couple of veteran lefties, but in Mike Montgomery, John Lamb, Danny Duffy, and Chris Dwyer, they've got four highly-rated southpaws not far from the Majors.  Aaron Crow has pitched well out of the team's big league bullpen, but he could also be in the rotation mix next year.  I can picture the Royals adding a veteran free agent or two for depth.
  • Infielder Wilson Betemit may be approaching free agency at the ideal time, as he's assembled a .300/.374/.497 line in 422 plate appearances in his Royals career to date.  He should be able to continue as a third base regular with another club.

Contract Options (2)

  • Joakim Soria: $6MM club option with a $750K buyout.  Arbitration eligible if declined.  Soria hasn't been himself this year, though much of the damage came in one outing against the White Sox.  At any rate, he's not going anywhere.
  • Jeff Francoeur: $3MM mutual option.  Did you know Francoeur is currently tied with Howie Kendrick for the American League lead in total bases?  He could end up knocking 30 home runs for the first time in his career.  Wil Myers is learning to play right field in Double-A currently, so the Royals may prefer a stopgap solution at most for 2012.

Arbitration Eligible (8)

There may be a few non-tenders in this group, but Aviles, Maier, Hochevar, Tejeda, Gordon, and Cabrera are likely to be retained.  I'll estimate something like $15MM for the six.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Royals' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is about $17MM assuming Soria's option is picked up.  $15MM for the key arbitration eligibles puts them around $32MM, $6MM shy of this year's payroll and about $40MM short of the '09 and '10 payrolls.  The Royals will probably increase their free agent activity during the 2011-12 offseason, as things may already be starting to come together.



2012 Contract Issues: Houston Astros

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

Eligible For Free Agency (2)

  • Clint Barmes' Astros career has just begun.  He'd like to stay beyond 2011, but the team's willingness to extend him will depend on his performance.
  • Jason Michaels is also eligible for free agency.

Contract Options (1)

  • Bill Hall: $4MM mutual option with a $250K buyout.  Hall has a standard mutual option, which is really just a way for the Astros to push some money onto next year's payroll.  He didn't do anything in April to suggest the team should extend him.

Arbitration Eligible (9)

Not all of these players will make it to the point of being tendered contracts.  Pence and Bourn are the significant cases, assuming they are not traded.  Pence had a big arbitration win in February and could make the jump to $10MM in 2012 and well beyond that in '13.  Bourn is controlled through '12 and is represented by Scott Boras; his salary next year could exceed $7MM.  Happ could top $3MM and Keppinger is already above $2MM.  I'll estimate $24MM or so to retain the key players. 

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Astros' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $47.25MM.  That could climb to $71MM if the main arbitration eligibles are retained, which would be about $6MM below this year's reduced payroll.  If Jim Crane buys the team, what path will he take?  The new ownership group could purge more of the remaining veterans and build the team from the ground up, using 2012 as a consolidation year (after which Carlos Lee and Brandon Lyon will be off the books).  Or, assuming players such as Pence, Bourn, Brett Myers, and Wandy Rodriguez are not traded in July, a new owner could throw around some free agent dollars and try to find a way to compete in '12.    


2012 Contract Issues: Los Angeles Angels

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

Eligible For Free Agency (2)

  • Starter Joel Pineiro will be the Angels' most significant free agent.  Though he's missed about a dozen starts in his Angels career due to injuries, he's also maintained much of his '09 success with a 3.73 ERA in 159 1/3 innings.  Pineiro might be able to repeat his two-year, $16MM deal on the open market depending on how the rest of this season goes.  He gives the Angels nice depth as their fourth starter.
  • The Angels will be done with Fernando Rodney, whose two-year, $11MM deal was questionable from the start.

Contract Options (2)

  • Scott Kazmir: $13.5MM club option with a $2.5MM buyout.  Barring a shocking performance, Kazmir will become a free agent.
  • Bobby Abreu: $9MM option vests with 433 plate appearances in 2011.  Abreu needs only 308 more plate appearances, so three more months should do it.

Arbitration Eligible (7)

Weaver's arbitration case should be a big story in January and February of 2012, especially if his dominant 2011 season continues.  We'll have more on this topic later, but even after losing a hearing in February many agents think he'll be around $14-15MM for '12.

Morales hasn't played since breaking a bone in his leg almost a year ago.  His raise should be mild because of that.  Kendrick could jump up to $6MM, and raises for the others could put the group around $34MM if everyone is tendered a contract.  It is possible Mathis and Willits are cut loose, dropping the team's estimated arbitration eligible bill closer to $30MM.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Angels' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $79.117MM including Kazmir's buyout but not Abreu's.  Throw in at least $39MM more for Abreu and the arbitration eligibles, and you're around $118MM.  That's about $24MM shy of this year's payroll, so there is room to re-sign Pineiro while also considering a free agent or two to upgrade the left side of the infield.  If an infielder surplus is created, the team could shed a few million by trading someone.  They could also save on 2012 payroll by locking up Kendrick or even Weaver, if the righty is willing to buck the trend of top Scott Boras clients testing free agency.


2012 Contract Issues: New York Mets

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

Eligible For Free Agency (9)

  • Jose Reyes has spent his entire career with the Mets, and Beltran has been with them since the '05 season.  There seems little chance of either player being re-signed.  Both are playing well on the young season and should do well in free agency.  They're also midseason trade candidates, with Reyes expected to fetch more given his lower salary.  At $18.5MM, Beltran might be mostly a salary dump even if he's healthy and hitting.
  • Sandy Alderson imports Chris Capuano, Chris Young, Tim Byrdak, Jason Isringhausen, Scott Hairston, and Willie Harris are up for free agency again, as well as Ryota Igarashi.  Several of the pitchers may be traded this summer if healthy and pitching decently.

Contract Options (1)

  • Francisco Rodriguez: $17.5MM club option with a $3.5MM buyout.  Guaranteed with 55 games finished.  K-Rod needs 47 more games finished to cause his option to vest.  It can be done; he finished 57 from May onward in 2009.  The Mets will either have to trade him to a team with an established closer or be very careful about his usage.

Arbitration Eligible (4)

Pelfrey has posted one good start in six tries this year.  A lousy platform year might hold down his arbitration raise, but he could still reach $6-7MM.  The Mets could consider trading or even non-tendering the 27-year-old righty.  Pagan has been brutal and Paulino has been out of the picture, though Buchholz has been a nice find.  For the sake of argument, I could see Pelfrey, Pagan, and Buchholz earning $14MM in total in 2012.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Mets' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $66.83MM, including Rodriguez's buyout.  If the Mets save $10MM+ by unloading Reyes, Beltran, and Rodriguez at the trade deadline, will that money go to next year's payroll?  Will Pelfrey be worth keeping around next year at $6-7MM?  Even if the Mets' financial problems result in a payroll drop to the $100MM range, Alderson should still have $20MM to play with.  A minority stake in the team could be sold by July, but Mets ownership will likely still be embroiled in a billion-dollar lawsuit when the 2011-12 offseason arrives.  When the Mets finally have a clean financial slate, there should be a lot of payroll space to work with.


2012 Contract Issues: Texas Rangers

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

Eligible For Free Agency (5)

  • Starting pitcher C.J. Wilson is the Rangers' key free agent.  The 30-year-old lefty has pitched well to start the 2011 season, trimming his walk rate in his first five starts.  He figures to be a hot commodity if he reaches the open market.  He talked to ESPN's Jayson Stark a couple of weeks ago about free agency, indicating that he'd like to stay in Texas.
  • Brandon Webb remains a wild card.  He is currently working in extended Spring Training, with a minor league rehab assignment the following step.
  • Darren Oliver is the team's de facto closer while Neftali Feliz is out.  If he can approximate his last couple of seasons the Rangers could look to retain him even at age 41.
  • Long relievers Dave Bush and Brett Tomko are also eligible for free agency.

Contract Options (3)

  • Arthur Rhodes: $4MM vesting option.  According to Cot's, this option vests if Rhodes has 62 appearances and doesn't finish 2011 on the DL.  He'll need 55 more appearances to get there.
  • Colby Lewis: $3.25MM club option with a $250K buyout.  So far this season Lewis has posted one decent start in four turns.  Even with an off year, Lewis' $3MM net price would give him trade value at the least.  If the Rangers decline the option they'd probably non-tender Lewis as well.
  • Yoshinori Tateyama.  I'm not sure the nature of Tateyama's option.  At the moment, he's dominating at Triple-A.

Arbitration Eligible (8)

This is a potentially expensive group.  Napoli is off to a great start, but will the Rangers be comfortable paying him $8MM?  A strong season could push Cruz close to $7MM.  Murphy could get $4MM, while Andrus and Harrison could each reach $3MM.  The arbitration eligible tab could approach $30MM, assuming Napoli is retained.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Rangers' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $70.45MM if Lewis and Rhodes are retained.  $30MM for arbitration eligibles puts them around $100MM, $8MM over this year's payroll.  Just to retain Wilson, the Rangers will need to either raise payroll even higher or shed some salary elsewhere.


2012 Contract Issues: San Francisco Giants

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

Eligible For Free Agency (6)

  • Veteran position players Miguel Tejada, Cody Ross, Mark DeRosa, and Pat Burrell will be eligible for free agency after the season.  Tejada, Ross, and DeRosa are making $6MM+ this year, and it probably won't make sense to keep them around at similar salaries.
  • Relievers Javier Lopez and Guillermo Mota are both off to good starts in the early going.

Contract Options (1)

  • Jeremy Affeldt: $5MM club option with a $500K buyout.  I'm not sure this is a good investment given Affeldt's control issues.  I'm leaning toward this being declined right now.

Arbitration Eligible (11)

Lincecum is the arbitration case everyone will be watching.  He was aiming for a first-time record before settling on a two-year deal in February of last year.  Lincecum is in a class by himself and could seek close to $20MM for 2012.  The Giants could try for another multiyear extension instead of working to prevent their ace from shattering arbitration records for his '12 and '13 salaries.

Sandoval and Sanchez deserve consideration for extensions as well.  Otherwise, I could see the pair earning around $12MM in total for '12.  Torres, Romo, and Ramirez would also make sense to retain at the least.  It's a very rough estimate, but the Giants' arbitration eligibles could get around $40MM for next year.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Giants' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $72.933MM including Affeldt's buyout.  Arbitration eligible players could put them in the $113MM range, $5MM shy of this year's $118MM payroll.  It's difficult to see the Giants taking payroll much higher, so barring trades or money-saving extensions GM Brian Sabean will have to go cheap at shortstop and in the outfield.


2012 Contract Issues: Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays 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)

  • James Shields: $7MM club option with a $2MM buyout.  Otherwise arbitration eligible.  This seems like it will be an easy choice to exercise.  Shields is under control through 2014, and if he becomes available this summer or winter the Rays could get a nice bounty.  We're getting ahead of ourselves, though – the team is only three games back in the AL East.
  • Kelly Shoppach: $3.2MM club option with a $300K buyout.  Shoppach hasn't done much hitting in his Rays career, so this is a tough call.  One factor to consider is the progress of catching prospect Robinson Chirinos.
  • Kyle Farnsworth: $3.3MM club option with a $650K buyout.  He's gotten the job done so far, and this option will merit consideration.

Arbitration Eligible (7)

Price is primed for a record-setting salary for a first-time arbitration eligible starting pitcher, say around $5.5MM.  Niemann could get $3MM, though the Rays could trade him as early as this summer even if they are contending.  Upton's price will be held down by his unspectacular offense, but he could get $7MM or more and is also a trade candidate.  There is some uncertainty with the other pitchers but for the sake of argument if everyone besides Johnson is retained the total bill could be around $21MM.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Rays' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $13MM excluding buyouts.  However we could tack on as much as $35MM if the three options are exercised and the arbitration eligibles are retained.  That'd have the club $6MM over this year's payroll, which was reduced drastically from years prior.  There are many moving parts here, and given their current big league talent and highly-regarded farm system, the Rays should find a way to compete next year even if payroll stays under $50MM.  That is no small feat.


2012 Contract Issues: Cincinnati Reds

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

Eligible For Free Agency (3)

  • Ramon Hernandez's timeshare behind the plate with Ryan Hanigan is working well, and if the Reds can re-up Hernandez in the $3MM range again I think they will.  On the other hand, as several readers have pointed out, prospect Devin Mesoraco is knocking on the door.
  • Jonny Gomes has not seemed to be the Reds' Plan A in recent offseasons.  It's too early to predict what the offseason holds for Gomes or whether his 20% walk rate means anything.
  • Edgar Renteria will also be eligible for free agency.

Contract Options (2)

  • Francisco Cordero: $12MM club option with a $1MM buyout.  Cordero blew eight saves last year but is three for three in 2011.  Regardless, I can't imagine the Reds picking this up.
  • Brandon Phillips: $12MM club option with a $1MM buyout.  Phillips' power came back down to Earth in '09 and '10, though he's off to a great start this year.  Phillips would like a new contract with the Reds.  I'm not sure whether the Reds will be up for that, but I can picture them exercising the option.

Arbitration Eligible (8)

Not everyone in this group will make it to the point of being tendered a contract.  Bailey, Volquez, Janish, Bray, and Masset should be retained, which could cost around $10MM in total.

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Reds' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $51.558MM not including Phillips' buyout.  If he and the arbitration eligibles are retained they could be in the $74MM range, about $7MM shy of this year's payroll.  GM Walt Jocketty won't have much to work with unless payroll is increased, though he would gain flexibility if Phillips is let go or extended on a backloaded deal.