Matt Swartz has developed a very accurate model that MLBTR uses to project arbitration salaries, as explained in this series of posts. We've heard from many MLB teams and agencies that reference the projections in their work. The Reds are next in our series. Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.
- Homer Bailey (5.017): $9.3MM
- Mike Leake (4.000): $5.9MM
- Aroldis Chapman (3.034): $4.6MM
- Ryan Hanigan (5.077): $2.3MM
- Chris Heisey (3.157): $1.7MM
- Alfredo Simon (4.142): $1.6MM
- Xavier Paul (3.119): $1MM
- Sam LeCure (3.072): $1MM
- Corky Miller (4.112): $700K
Bailey posted the best season of his career in 2013, and stayed healthy for the second consecutive year. 28 in May, he's due a large raise for his contract year. Discounts can be rare with a player so close to free agency, and even Jered Weaver's five-year, $85MM deal might not be enough to lock up Bailey at this point. If the Reds don't see Bailey as a potential $100MM pitcher for them, they'll have to decide whether to trade him now, trade him during the season, or just let him walk as a free agent. Brandon Phillips might be the Reds' preferred salary to clear this winter, but Bailey is another option and would bring a much larger return. Replacing his production in the rotation is the hard part.
Leake is also looking at a large salary bump after posting a career-best 3.37 ERA in 192 1/3 innings. He lacks the upside of Bailey, but with two years of control some teams might prefer him. An extension is another option, though there are few recent comparables from Leake's service class. A five-year contract worth $40MM+ could be fair, though Leake's low strikeout rate should give the Reds pause.
Despite being signed through 2014, Chapman gets to go through the arbitration process and take his $3MM salary as a bonus. Assuming the bonus is not factored into the closer's projection, we have him at $4.6MM. The Reds will find that closers can get expensive in a hurry through arbitration, especially with strong ones in Chapman's service class like Craig Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen, and Greg Holland potentially pushing him up. I think it's best to go year-to-year with Chapman, as the potential reward of buying out his free agent years starting in 2017 outweighs the risk of guaranteeing him a walk-prone reliever significant money when you don't have to.
Hanigan, a rare OBP-oriented catcher, has finished a three-year deal and enters his contract year. An oblique strain, a sore thumb, an ankle injury, and a wrist strain hampered him in 2013, helping keep his salary down in the range of a backup. It makes sense to retain him.
Heisey continued to show pop against left-handed pitching, though his overall .237 average was a career worst. He's due a mild raise, and even if the Reds were to look in another direction, a team would might take him on in trade. Paul's success against right-handed pitching continued, and the 28-year-old has developed into a useful extra outfielder.
Simon finished third in MLB with 87 2/3 relief innings, and is locked in for next year after posting a 2.87 ERA. LeCure was even better, with a 2.66 ERA and strong strikeout rate in 61 frames.
As a 37-year-old third catcher, Miller will likely lose his 40-man roster spot soon.
Assuming the Reds retain Bailey, Leake, Chapman, Hanigan, Heisey, Simon, Paul, and LeCure, the Reds are looking at a projected $27.4MM for eight arbitration eligible players.