2013 Contract Issues Rumors

2013 Contract Issues: Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (7)

  • Cole Hamels - Hamels might be the offseason's most coveted free agent. He'll turn down the Phillies' qualifying offer after the season in search of a multiyear deal. If the Phillies are willing to commit six or seven years at $20MM or more per season, they'll be in the running for Hamels. If not, he figures to sign elsewhere.
  • Juan Pierre - Pierre won't be available on another minor league deal if he keeps hitting like this. 
  • Chad Qualls - The durable right-hander could figure in to the 2013 bullpen on another one-year deal.
  • Shane Victorino - The center fielder would like to stay in Philadelphia on a five-year deal. The Phillies seem interested in retaining him, but haven't ruled out a midseason trade.
  • Jim Thome - Thome turns 42 in August; at some point in the not-too-distant future his Hall of Fame career figures to come to an end.
  • Joe Blanton - Blanton's off to a tremendous start and could be setting himself up for a guaranteed one or two-year deal this winter.
  • Brian Schneider - Schneider, 35, continues to add value in a reserve role. It wouldn't be surprising to see him re-sign in Philadelphia.

Contract Options (4)

  • Placido Polanco: $5.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout. The Phillies don't have a long-term solution at third base and could look to bring Polanco back. However, mutual options are rarely exercised by both sides.
  • Ty Wigginton: $4MM option with a $500K buyout. The Phillies have relied heavily on Wigginton at the infield corners this year, but $4MM may be more than they care to spend on a 34-year-old utility player whose power is waning.
  • Carlos Ruiz: $5MM club option with a $500K buyout. The Phillies will exercise this option, barring something unforeseen.
  • Jose Contreras: $2.5MM club option with a $500K buyout. I don't expect the Phillies to exercise the 40-year-old's option this offseason.

Arbitration Eligible (5)

Few arbitration eligible players will earn more than Pence in 2013. The right fielder can expect a raise to $13-14MM with a typical season, so the Phillies will be spending more on one player than some teams do on their entire arbitration classes. Beyond Pence, there's a pair of first-time eligible relievers and two infielders who could very well be non-tendered.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Phillies, who are spending $172MM on this year's team, have committed $112.6MM to next year's payroll. If ownership boosts payroll much more, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. will bump up against the luxury tax at $178MM. Whether the Phillies approach the luxury tax depends largely on where Hamels and Victorino sign.

2013 Contract Issues: Washington Nationals

The Nationals are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (6)

  • Edwin Jackson - It would make sense for the Nationals to make Jackson a qualifying offer after the season, assuming his strong year continues. If he accepts, they have a capable starter in his prime on a reasonable one-year deal. If he declines, they obtain draft pick compensation.
  • Chien-Ming Wang - It's hard to imagine more than an incentive-based short-term contract for Wang next winter, even if he pitches well after his minor league rehab assignment ends.
  • Brad Lidge - Lidge last pitched on April 21st and remains on the disabled list as he recovers from hernia surgery.
  • Rick Ankiel - There's an expectation that the Nationals will look for a long-term answer in center field after the season, when Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton hit free agency. Even so, the Nationals could have interest in bringing Ankiel back for another season.
  • Chad Tracy - Tracy will probably be looking at minor league offers this coming offseason.
  • Xavier Nady – Until the core of the Nationals' 2013 lineup has been established, it'll be hard to say whether Nady fits on the team's bench.

Contract Options (2)

  • Adam LaRoche: $10MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout. LaRoche seems to have returned to form, so the Nationals could look to retain him in 2013. However, Michael Morse would presumably be bumped to first base if the Nationals sign a center fielder.
  • Sean Burnett: $3.5MM mutual option with a $250K buyout. Burnett doesn't obtain buyout if he declines option. I can see the Nationals picking up their half of this mutual option.

Arbitration Eligible (10)

Desmond, Storen and Detwiler lead a large class of first-time eligible players. Zimmermann, Clippard and Gorzelanny can also look forward to raises this coming offseason, but Lannan will surely be non-tendered if he's still on Washington's roster in December. The Nationals saved themselves millions by delaying Stephen Strasburg's MLB debut in 2010; he will miss the cutoff for super two eligibility by a couple of weeks.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Nationals, who have a $92MM payroll this year, have committed $52MM to next year's team. That should leave GM Mike Rizzo with approximately $40MM to deal with the team's arbitration eligible players and sign free agents. The Nationals have steadily raised payroll under the ownership of Ted Lerner and it wouldn't be surprising to see payroll climb again in 2013.

2013 Contract Issues: Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (4)

  • Ryan Dempster - Dempster owns a 1.74 ERA through six starts and could be traded this summer. The Cubs may make the 35-year-old a qualifying offer after the season, but I don't expect them to. Dempster's ERA is definitely not sustainable and he's bound to start declining at some point, so the Cubs may look to ensure that it doesn't happen on their roster and payroll.
  • Shawn Camp - Camp has pitched well for the Cubs, and the team may have interest in retaining him on a minor league deal for 2013. 
  • Reed Johnson - Johnson, 35, has been a valuable extra outfielder in recent seasons, but the Cubs' offseason plans won't revolve around him.
  • Jeff Baker - Baker, who is off to a slow start at the plate, won't necessarily be asked to return.

Contract Options (2)

  • Paul Maholm: $6.5MM club option with a $500K buyout. Maholm has stayed healthy this year and $6.5MM isn't unreasonable for a back-end starter with some upside.
  • Kerry Wood: $3MM club option without a buyout. Wood has struggled through nine appearances, as his 8.64 ERA indicates. However, this has the potential to be a bargain for the Cubs if the right-hander can stay healthy and show signs that he's the same pitcher he was in 2011.

Arbitration Eligible (8)

The Cubs face a relatively expensive projected arbitration class that includes some of the team's best players. Soto and Garza will earn raises next winter as they go to arbitration for the final time. Samardzija and Castro seem primed for salaries of at least $2MM (unfortunately for Samardzija, starters Rick Porcello and David Price didn't seem to be able to use their generous pre-arbitration salaries to boost their arbitration earnings this past offseason). Wells, Volstad and Stewart could each be traded or non-tendered if the Cubs aren't comfortable locking them in for raises and roster spots going forward.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Cubs have approximately $35MM committed to next year's payroll, including Alfonso Soriano's $19MM salary. They have spent at least $100MM on payroll in each of the past five seasons, so president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer should have financial flexibility even after accounting for arbitration raises.

2013 Contract Issues: Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (2)

  • Scott Rolen – Rolen, now on the disabled list with a strained shoulder, could be replaced by Todd Frazier in 2012. Frazier is 11 years younger than Rolen and considerably more affordable.
  • Miguel Cairo - Cairo, 38, contributed at three positions and posted a .742 OPS in 102 games last year. He's off to a slow start in 2012, and will probably be looking at a minor league deal next offseason.

Contract Options (2)

  • Ryan Madson: $11MM mutual option with a $2.5MM buyout. As MLBTR's Dan Mennella recently explained, it's safe to expect the Reds to decline their side of this option. It'd be a lot of money for a player recovering from Tommy John surgery on a team with alternatives in the bullpen.
  • Ryan Ludwick: $5MM mutual option with a $500K buyout. Ludwick hasn't done much at the plate this year; it's hard to imagine the Reds exercising their side of the option.

Arbitration Eligible (10)

First-time eligible players Latos, Stubbs and Leake have their shortcomings, but they've got bulk performance on their side, and could each earn $2.5-4MM in 2013. Bailey will earn a raise from $2.43MM his second time through the arbitration process, giving the Reds at least four reasonably expensive players. Non-tender candidates such as Valdez will emerge, lessening the team's obligations.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Reds have steadily raised payroll from $73MM to $87MM in recent seasons. They have $74MM in pre-existing commitments for 2013 plus a large arbitration class, so it seems likely next year's payroll will rise as well.

2013 Contract Issues: Houston Astros

The Astros are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (2)

  • Carlos Lee – Lee appears to want to stay in Houston and the Astros will need a designated hitter next year when they move to the American League West. If he's willing to re-sign for a tenth of his 2012 salary ($18MM) maybe the Astros will be interested.
  • Brandon Lyon – Lyon's hot start makes him a midseason trade candidate who could be gone before the offseason begins. Neither Lyon nor Lee should expect a qualifying offer from Houston next offseason.

Contract Options (2)

  • Brett Myers: $10MM club option with a $3MM buyout. Option vests with approximately 55 games finished. A $7MM net cost might be a luxury for a rebuilding team, even though Myers could probably help Houston in 2013. He's another midseason trade candidate to keep an eye on.
  • Chris Snyder: $4MM mutual option with a $500K buyout. Mutual options are rarely exercised by both sides. They sometimes exist to defer salary from one season to the next. 

Arbitration Eligible (7)

The Astros will face a relatively affordable class of arbitration eligible players. Happ ($2.35MM in '12), Lowrie ($1.15MM) and Buck ($580K) will obtain raises but will remain affordable. Lopez and Wright, two non-closing relievers, both figure to cost the Astros $1MM or so next year. I think Norris could earn $3.5-4MM via arbitration as a first-time eligible player if his strong season continues. There's a good chance the Astros' eligible players will return for a total of $15MM or less in 2013.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Astros are spending approximately $61MM on payroll in 2012, their first season under owner Jim Crane and GM Jeff Luhnow. They only have $17MM in commitments for 2013, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Expect Luhnow to have more payroll flexibility than he did last offseason when he transitions the team to the American League next winter.

2013 Contract Issues: Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (4)

  • Zack Greinke - It looks like Greinke will be one of the offseason's top free agents. Assuming he spends the entire season in Milwaukee without signing an extension, I expect the Brewers will make him a one-year qualifying offer this fall to be eligible for draft pick compensation. Greinke will presumably decline the offer in search of a multiyear deal.
  • Shaun Marcum - It'll be interesting to see if the Brewers make Marcum a qualifying offer when he files for free agency. Qualifying offers project to be worth $12.5MM or so this offseason, a considerable jump from Marcum's current $7.725MM salary.
  • Cesar Izturis - While Izturis could be back in 2013, he doesn't appear to have a place in the Brewers' long-term plans.
  • Francisco Rodriguez - Rodriguez, 30, is off to a relatively slow start for the Brewers. He won't obtain a qualifying offer from the team this offseason.

Contract Options (2)

  • Randy Wolf: $10MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout. The 35-year-old left-hander hasn't looked like a $10MM pitcher so far this year, but the Brewers may pick up the option if he pitches 200-plus innings with an ERA around 4.00, as he did in 2010-11.
  • Alex Gonzalez: $4MM vesting option become guaranteed with 525 plate appearances. Gonzalez will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL, so there's no chance this option will vest.

Arbitration Eligible (12)

The Brewers will have a large class of arb eligible players this offseason. Axford's case might be the most interesting one facing Gord Ash, Teddy Werner and others in the Brewers front office. This class includes some non-tender candidates (Chulk, Ishikawa, Conrad, Veras and even Morgan), so there's a good chance the Brewers will have fewer than 12 cases to resolve next offseason.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Brewers have committed approximately $52MM to next year's payroll, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. The team's payroll has risen to $98MM under Mark Attanasio's ownership, so GM Doug Melvin will have some money to spend this offseason. He'll need it, with two of his top starters hitting free agency and uncertainty on the infield.

2013 Contract Issues: Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (5)

  • Erik Bedard - Bedard was starting to look like an appealing midseason trade candidate, but he left his most recent start with back spasms. There's no guarantee he'll finish this season in Pittsburgh, so it'd be premature to assume he'll play on next year's Pirates team.
  • Juan Cruz - Cruz owns a respectable 11K/6BB ratio and has allowed just one run in 14 innings. He'll be looking at a one-year deal this offseason and won't necessarily obtain a guaranteed roster spot, so the Pirates may try to re-sign him to a low-risk contract.
  • Jason Grilli - Grilli has 23 strikeouts and a 2.77 ERA after 13 innings. The Pirates may well want to retain him for another year as well.
  • Nate McLouth - McLouth has struggled in his return to Pittsburgh, but in theory he could be a solid extra outfielder.
  • Kevin Correia - The Pirates figure to be looking for starting pitching depth this offseason. Correia could be a fit, but it seems unlikely the Pirates would choose to make him a major commitment given that his fastball velocity and strikeout rate have dropped off so far in 2012. None of the players above figure to see qualifying offers from the Pirates when they hit free agency.

Contract Options (2)

  • Rod Barajas: $3.5MM club option with no buyout becomes a mutual option after a trade. Walk-off home runs aside, it's been a slow start at the plate for Barajas, who has a .472 OPS so far in 2012. It's still early enough for the veteran catcher to make that $3.5MM figure seem reasonable, however.
  • Pedro Alvarez: $700K club option. Exercising Alvarez's option figures to be a formality, especially if he continues to hit for power.

Arbitration Eligible (9)

The Pirates are up against a relatively large and expensive projected arbitration class. McDonald and Walker are on track for salaries north of $2MM as first-time eligible players and the rest are on track for raises. However, this group could be thinned out in the coming months. McGehee and Jones could be on the non-tender bubble by December's deadline and Hanrahan is a trade candidate who might be playing elsewhere a few months from now. If the Pirates keep everyone this arbitration class could get expensive quickly, since every player but Meek and Resop will be in line for at least $2MM in 2013.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Pirates' payroll is up to $52MM this year, but it remains one of the lowest payrolls in MLB. They have committed $19.375MM to next year's team, so GM Neal Huntington should have payroll flexibility this coming offseason, assuming some arbitration eligible players don't return.

2013 Contract Issues: St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (3)

  • Kyle Lohse - Lohse is limiting walks, hits and home runs so far this year, so the Cardinals could have interest in extending their relationship with the right-hander. If pitching prospects Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez don't seem ready for MLB hitters, Lohse could round out the St. Louis rotation for another year.
  • Lance Berkman - Berkman, 36, has appeared in just eight games this year due to an extended stint on the disabled list. If the switch-hitter replicates his 2011 production from here on it'll be hard for the Cardinals to let him go. If not, they can allocate his $12MM salary elsewhere.
  • Scott Linebrink - Linebrink, now on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, hasn't thrown a pitch for the Cardinals. The 35-year-old has been an effective reliever in recent years, but his stock has fallen in 2012.

Contract Options (1)

  • Jake Westbrook: $8.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout if the club declines. Westbrook has pitched well, though not quite as well as his 1.76 ERA suggests. The right-hander will have turned 35 by the time the season ends, so the Cardinals could decline their side of the option if they believe the net cost of $7.5MM is too much for a back-of-the-rotation starter.

Arbitration Eligible (5)

The Cardinals face a relatively small class of arbitration eligible players this offseason. The group figures to cost $10-15MM to retain for 2013.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Cardinals have already committed approximately $84.5MM to next year's payroll. They've spent $110MM or so in each of the past two seasons, so they should be able to round out their rotation without raising payroll after accounting for arbitration eligible players and other upcoming raises.

2013 Contract Issues: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (4)

  • Joe Saunders - Top pitching prospects such as Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs provide the Diamondbacks with more affordable options than Saunders, who earns $6MM in 2012. He's pitching well, but it won't be surprising if the team lets him walk this offseason.
  • Takashi Saito - A strained calf landed Saito on the disabled list at the beginning of the season, and he has yet to appear in a game for the Diamondbacks. There are no guarantees for the 42-year-old going forward.
  • Miguel Montero - The Diamondbacks could reach a deal with Montero before the offseason, but the catcher wants a $50MM commitment.
  • Lyle Overbay - Manager Kirk Gibson has limited Overbay's exposure to left-handed pitching and the early results (a .964 OPS) are excellent. Perhaps Overbay will return on a one-year deal to complement the right-handed Paul Goldschmidt.

Contract Options (3)

  • Stephen Drew: $10MM mutual option with a $1.35MM buyout. Drew has been sidelined with a fractured ankle since last July and at this point it's hard to envision a $10MM commitment from the team.
  • J.J. Putz: $6.5MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout. As MLBTR's Dan Mennella recently explained, it seems likely that the Diamondbacks will exercise this option.
  • Henry Blanco: $1.24MM mutual option. Mutual options are rarely exercised by both sides and Blanco turns 41 this year.

Arbitration Eligible (7)

Kennedy, Parra and Hernandez will be relatively well compensated even as first-time eligible players, but this entire group might not cost much more than $15MM. GM Kevin Towers could consider trade offers for Ziegler and/or Breslow if he needs to clear payroll, since both will earn more than $2MM in 2013.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Diamondbacks have already committed nearly $45MM toward next year's payroll. They'll spend approximately $75MM on this year's payroll and they've averaged $70MM or so since 2009, so they can be expected to have $10MM or so to work with after retaining their arbitration eligible players, barring another payroll increase from ownership.

2013 Contract Issues: Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:

Eligible For Free Agency (4)

  • Marco Scutaro - Scutaro's off to a slow start at the plate and the Rockies could save by relying on less experienced infielders in 2013.
  • Jeremy Guthrie - Guthrie's now on the disabled list, but it won't be surprising if he re-signs with the Rockies this offseason.
  • Jamie Moyer - Moyer, who turns 50 this offseason, has a respectable 4.01 ERA in 33 2/3 innings. His age limits his leverage in contract talks, but another minor league deal might work.
  • Jason Giambi - The 41-year-old Giambi continues to contribute as a bat off the bench and occasional first baseman. Perhaps the Rockies will bring him back for a fifth season in Denver on a low-risk deal.

Contract Options (1)

  • Jorge De La Rosa: $11MM player option with a $1MM buyout. If exercised, the club obtains an $11MM option for 2014. De La Rosa, who's now on his way back from Tommy John surgery, figures to exercise this option barring a tremendous second half showing. It's currently hard to imagine him finding $11MM elsewhere.

Arbitration Eligible (6)

Fowler and Chacin will lead a relatively small and affordable class of arbitration eligible players. Outman, currently on the disabled list, hasn't thrown a pitch for the Rockies and could be a non-tender candidate by December's deadline. If the out of options Rogers continues to struggle at the MLB level, he could also be non-tendered. As long as the cutoff falls where it's expected to, Rogers and Colvin will be eligible.

2013 Payroll Obligation

The Rockies typically operate with a payroll in the $80MM range and they have committed $46MM to next year's team. Assuming De La Rosa returns and their arbitration class doesn't cost much more than $10MM, GM Dan O'Dowd should have $10MM or so to work with this coming offseason.