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- Homer Bailey On DL With Potentially Serious Elbow Injury
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2014 Arbitration Eligibles Rumors
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 Royals are next in our series. Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.
- Luke Hochevar (5.151): $5MM
- Greg Holland (3.028): $4.9MM
- Eric Hosmer (2.146, Super Two): $4.1MM
- Emilio Bonifacio (5.066): $3.3MM
- Felipe Paulino (5.163): $1.75MM
- Aaron Crow (3.000): $1.9MM
- Chris Getz (5.035): $1.3MM
- George Kottaras (4.149): $1.2MM
- Justin Maxwell (3.017): $1.2MM
- Luis Mendoza (3.063): $1MM
- Tim Collins (3.000): $1MM
- Brett Hayes (3.017): $900K
In Holland, Hochevar, Collins, and Crow, four mainstays of the Royals' excellent bullpen are arbitration eligible. Holland was flat-out dominant, earning an All-Star nod while posting a 1.21 ERA with 47 saves and 103 strikeouts in 67 innings. With a few more seasons near that level, he could get expensive in a hurry. There aren't any recent closers who signed extensions with three years of service, but Brian Wilson received about $19.5MM for his three arbitration years. Hochevar finally found his calling in the bullpen and was almost as good as Holland. While he's approaching the market price for a setup man, keeping him in front of Holland and shortening games to seven innings again next year is surely appealing to the Royals.
Collins and Crow had problems with free passes and scuffled at times in 2013, but are penciled into next year's pen as well. Collins is a southpaw, but otherwise the Royals are deep in right-handed relief and may be able to use part of the surplus in a trade.
Mendoza won the Royals' fifth starter job out of Spring Training, but was demoted to the bullpen in July. He was used sparingly in a mop-up role and was hit hard in his six relief appearances to close out the season. A non-tender is possible despite his low projected salary, or he could be traded. Paulino underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2012, allowing the Royals to pull off the rare salary decrease in arbitration. His rehab efforts this year were cut short due to a cyst in his shoulder, on which he had surgery in September. The Royals will be able to bring him back one more time for around the same salary, and if his recovery is going well, it's probably worth doing.
After a lousy 2012, Hosmer bounced back with a strong campaign just in time for the first of four potential arbitration years. I'd suggest an Allen Craig or Billy Butler type of extension, but Hosmer is represented by Scott Boras, and he's never done that type of deal. Elsewhere among the Royals' position players, Bonifacio and Maxwell will have roles on next year's team, with strong showings after coming over in summer trades.
Though they would be cheap to retain, Getz, Hayes, and Kottaras are non-tender candidates. Getz won the Royals' starting second base job out of Spring Training, but was optioned to Triple-A in June and missed time with a knee injury upon his return to the Majors. Hayes, a November waiver claim from the Marlins, was on and off the 40-man roster this year and was third on the Royals' catching depth chart. Kottaras, a January waiver claim from the Athletics, won the backup catcher job out of camp and held it for the season. It seems likely Hayes will lose his 40-man spot again, while Kottaras may stay on as Salvador Perez's backup unless the Royals decide they need an upgrade.
Assuming the Royals tender contracts to Hochevar, Holland, Hosmer, Bonifacio, Paulino, Crow, Kottaras, Maxwell, and Collins, they're looking at an estimated $24.35MM for nine arbitration eligible players.
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 Angels are next in our series. Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.
- Mark Trumbo (3.027): $4.7MM
- Jerome Williams (5.049): $3.9MM
- Tommy Hanson (4.114): $3.9MM
- Ernesto Frieri (3.101): $3.4MM
- Kevin Jepsen (3.163): $1.4MM
- Juan Gutierrez (4.035): $1.1MM
- Peter Bourjos (3.062): $1.1MM
- Chris Nelson (2.122, Super Two): $1MM
Trumbo projects for a healthy salary his first time through arbitration, with career numbers of 95 home runs and 284 RBI and a platform year with 34 homers and 100 knocked in. His flaw is a .299 career on-base percentage, which should improve if he holds onto gains in his walk rate and his batting average recovers. There is value in a player with Trumbo's profile, especially at $4.7MM. I wouldn't be too aggressive about a long-term deal, though, and a healthy Albert Pujols would give the Angels the depth to consider trading Trumbo.
Bourjos is another trade candidate. This year a hamstring injury and wrist fracture each cost him over a month, with September wrist surgery ending his season. Angels GM Jerry Dipoto showed faith in Bourjos as his starting center fielder entering the season, and if Trumbo, Pujols, and Josh Hamilton are rotated through the designated hitter spot in 2014, there's room for everyone to start. On the other hand, MVP candidate Mike Trout is more than capable of handling center, making a Bourjos trade possible. Bourjos' value is at a low point after the injuries limited him to just 55 games in 2013, but he's also quite affordable his first time through arbitration and should remain cheap beyond 2014.
Frieri notched 37 saves in 2013, so he'll get paid through arbitration despite allowing 11 home runs with a 3.80 ERA. Agents of relievers like Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Edward Mujica, and Brian Wilson are surely hoping the Angels will throw some money at the ninth inning this winter, pushing Frieri to a setup role. Regardless, he's worth retaining at his projected salary.
The Angels' bullpen also includes arbitration eligible relievers Jepsen and Gutierrez. Jepsen, 29, averaged almost 96 miles per hour on his fastball and whiffed a batter per inning in 2013. He also allowed 41 hits in 36 innings, missing time due to a lat strain and emergency appendectomy. With a $1.4MM projection, he's worth retaining. Gutierrez, another hard thrower, won a spot in the Royals' bullpen out of Spring Training but was designated for assignment in July. The Angels added him on a waiver claim, and he posted a 5.19 ERA for them in 26 innings despite striking out 9.7 per nine innings. His spot on the 40-man roster seems tenuous, even with a low projected salary.
Williams was again a useful swingman, but with his salary projected to nearly double, the Angels might consider non-tendering him and using the funds elsewhere. Hanson is a certain non-tender, after missing significant time due to a personal matter, hitting the DL for a forearm strain, and getting a demotion to Triple-A. At just 27 years old, Hanson's former promise may earn him a big league contract on the free agent market, if his health checks out.
With two years and 122 days of Major League service, Nelson represents the unofficial Super Two cutoff for 2013. With a projected salary only $500K over the league minimum, that's not a big factor in the Angels' tender decision. Nelson joined the Angels from the Yankees on a May 18th waiver claim, but was designated for assignment less than a month later. He remained in the organization after accepting an outright assignment, and after finding his way back to the bigs hit the DL for a hamstring injury. Expect him to be cut loose by the Angels.
If the Angels tender contracts to Trumbo, Frieri, Jepsen, and Bourjos, they're looking at a projected $10.6MM for four arbitration eligible players.
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 Orioles are next in our series. Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.
- Jim Johnson (5.165): $10.8MM
- Chris Davis (4.061): $10MM
- Matt Wieters (4.129): $7.9MM
- Bud Norris (4.068): $5MM
- Tommy Hunter (4.066): $3.1MM
- Brian Matusz (3.156): $2.1MM
- Nolan Reimold (4.004): $1.2MM
- Troy Patton (3.150): $1.2MM
- Steve Pearce (4.116): $1.1MM
- Chris Dickerson (3.133): $700K
- Dan Johnson (3.168): Contract includes $800K club option for 2014. If declined, MLBTR's projected arbitration salary is equal to the league minimum $500K.
Davis put together a monster, MVP-caliber season: .286 average, 53 home runs, 138 RBI, and 103 runs scored as the Orioles' first baseman. It wasn't from completely out of nowhere, as he hit 33 home runs in 2012. Only 16 other players in baseball history have hit as many home runs in a season, and Davis led MLB in RBI this year as well.
This year Matt and I created what we call the Kimbrel Rule in our arbitration projections: a player's raise cannot be more than $1MM more than the previous record raise. Normally Davis' stats would justify a salary close to $11MM, meaning a raise of $7.5MM. The largest raise on record we've found is Jacoby Ellsbury's $5.65MM bump, so with our new rule we're capping Davis' raise at $6.65MM to put him at $9.95MM. We'll call it an even $10MM, since that's a nice benchmark for agent Scott Boras. Can Boras get there? After hitting 54 home runs in 2010, Jose Bautista sought an $8.1MM raise in arbitration, with the Blue Jays countering at $5.2MM for a midpoint raise of $6.65MM, exactly where we've capped Davis. Bautista ultimately signed a five-year, $65MM deal instead, which I don't think is going to happen with Davis and Boras. Boras has done some two-year arbitration year deals, which is more feasible if the Orioles want to avoid the arbitration process after 2014.
On the strength of a second consecutive 50 save season, closer Jim Johnson is due a large raise as well. This one is more difficult to stomach, as Johnson's salary would exceed our predicted average annual value of free agent closers Grant Balfour and Joaquin Benoit, and approach that of an elite closer in Joe Nathan. Johnson led MLB in saves in 2012 and tied for the lead in 2013, but he also led MLB in save opportunities each year. This year, in particular, his 84.7% success rate was pedestrian, ranking 23rd among those with at least 15 opportunities. There's an argument to be made that if Kevin Gregg, Brad Ziegler, or Ernesto Frieri received 59 opportunities this year, they would have saved 50 games as well.
That's not to say Johnson is a bad reliever — his ERA has been under 3.00 in each of the past three seasons, he maintains a low walk rate, and he gets tons of groundballs. Though he blew nine saves in 2013, any team would be happy to have him in their bullpen in a late inning role. The problem is the salary inflation brought about by saving 101 games over the last two seasons. This doesn't seem to concern Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette, who told Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com in September the O's will tender Johnson a contract and intend to bring him back in 2014. "He's established himself as one of the top closers in the game," explained Duquette, and I suppose a one-year, high-salary deal is more favorable than the three years he might get on the open market.
Wieters is another big Boras case, a year after beating our most aggressive salary projection by almost 20%. The Orioles offered an extension of at least five years around April, but it seems to have fallen short of the player's requirements. Though his counting stats and durability were good in 2013, Wieters' already-low batting average took a dip, as did his walk rate. The result was an unimpressive .287 on-base percentage. Still, Wieters is in line for another solid raise, with free agency looming after 2015. It might be time to consider a trade, if only the Orioles had a ready replacement behind the dish.
Norris, acquired from Houston at the trade deadline, bumped his strikeout rate significantly with Baltimore but also saw his rates of walks, home runs, hits allowed, and ERA rise. He's still penciled in for a 2014 rotation spot. Hunter's first full year in relief went well, with 21 holds. He'll be joined again in the bullpen by Matusz and Patton, who remain affordable.
The Orioles removed Pearce from their 40-man roster in December, and he rejoined the club on a minor league deal and made the team out of Spring Training. He had two DL stints for a wrist injury, but was otherwise solid with a .261/.362/.420 line in 138 plate appearances. I think he'll stick around.
Reimold, Dickerson, and Dan Johnson are non-tender candidates. Reimold has been limited to 56 games over the last two seasons due to neck issues. Dickerson joined the big club in April after signing a minor league deal in the offseason. He was designated for assignment in July and accepted an outright assignment, getting his 40-man roster spot back in September. Johnson spent most of the year with the Yankees' Triple-A club, landing a minor league deal with the Orioles in late August and later getting into three September games for the Major League team.
If the Orioles tender contracts to Jim Johnson, Davis, Wieters, Norris, Hunter, Matusz, Patton and Pearce, they're looking at an estimated $41.2MM for eight arbitration eligible players.
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 Rays are next in our series. Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.
- David Price (4.164): $13.1MM
- Matt Joyce (4.123): $3.7MM
- Jeff Niemann (5.022): $3MM
- Jeremy Hellickson (3.045): $3.3MM
- Wesley Wright (4.105): $1.4MM
- Sean Rodriguez (4.133): $1.3MM
- Jake McGee (2.127, Super Two): $1.2MM
- Jose Lobaton (2.138, Super Two): $1MM
- Sam Fuld (3.140): $900K
- Cesar Ramos (3.003): $700K
Price projects to have the third-largest salary of any arbitration eligible player, and he'll go to arbitration again after the 2014 season. He missed over a month with triceps tightness this year and came back much improved, posting a 2.53 ERA in his final 18 starts with a K/BB ratio near eight. The 28-year-old is far superior to any free agent starter and one of the best in baseball. He told reporters on an October conference call he expects to be traded this winter, perhaps due to his rising salary, diminishing team control, and the precedent set by the Rays with James Shields and Matt Garza. Indeed, a blockbuster deal this winter seems likely, and if Price lands with a new team, that club will surely have interest in locking him up barring further health complications. I anticipate something in the range of five years and $125MM, if the contract includes his final arbitration year. Otherwise Price could wait, re-establish his health in 2014, and use Clayton Kershaw's next contract to leap past the $135-140MM in new money guaranteed to Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez.
The rest of the Rays' arbitration class is more pedestrian. Joyce continued to serve as a useful platoon outfielder. Rodriguez, Lobaton, and Fuld held down lesser reserve roles, with Fuld facing at least some threat of a non-tender despite another low salary projection.
Starters Hellickson and Niemann project for similar salaries. Despite improved peripheral stats, Hellickson's third season was his worst in terms of ERA, with a 5.17 mark. The Rays sent him to the minors for a brief period toward the end of the season, which was used as a break since the organization never intended to have him pitch at a lower level. Hellickson is likely penciled into next year's rotation, especially if Price is on the move. Niemann has missed most of the last two seasons, and had shoulder surgery in April this year. Another $3MM guarantee would be risky, so a non-tender seems likely.
Wright, McGee, and Ramos are up for arbitration in the bullpen, and all seem in good standing after decent seasons.
Assuming the Rays tender contracts to Price, Joyce, Hellickson, Wright, Rodriguez, McGee, Lobaton, and Ramos, they're looking at an estimated $25.7MM for eight arbitration eligible players.
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 Diamondbacks are next in our series. Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.
- Brad Ziegler (5.122): $5MM
- Gerardo Parra (4.145): $4.2MM
- Joe Thatcher (5.019): $2MM
- Tony Sipp (4.138): $1.4MM
- Daniel Hudson (3.117): $1.1MM
- Josh Collmenter (3.000): $900K
- Matt Reynolds (3.046): Avoided arbitration. $550K for 2014, $600K club option with a $50K buyout for '15
Due to the struggles of the team's other relievers, Ziegler ascended to the Diamondbacks' closer role in July and ended up recording 13 saves and 11 holds. He projects to earn a nice $5MM salary in his contract year, and it seems possible the D'Backs try to tack on an additional season.
Parra had one of the quietest 4.6 win seasons you'll see, due mainly to his exceptional defense in right and center field. Defense doesn't generally pay in arbitration, but if Parra picks up another Gold Glove award he might see a salary boost from it. He also set career bests with 10 home runs and 79 runs scored. Parra's skillset is destined to remain undervalued, but with free agency coming up after 2015, an extension might be wise for Arizona.
Thatcher was the biggest name the D'Backs received for two-plus years of Ian Kennedy, and he had several rough outings in the weeks following the trade. The team would look pretty bad in cutting him loose this winter, but a non-tender or trade remains possible. Sipp seems a good bet to be non-tendered following a lackluster season. Collmenter, working full-time in relief for the first time, put together a strong 92-inning campaign and will be a part of next year's bullpen.
Hudson had Tommy John surgery in July 2012 and was close to returning this summer when he unfortunately re-tore his elbow ligament. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic talked to Reds chief medical director Tim Kremcheck in June, who said the failure rate of a second Tommy John procedure is in the 40-50% range. In that article, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers suggested Hudson has a better chance of returning as a reliever this time. As Hudson later noted to Piecoro in September, "I’m in a pretty weird situation going into my first year of arbitration." In that article, Towers talked about being creative in advance of the December 2nd non-tender deadline, and Hudson says he would like to stay. If nothing can be worked out by the deadline, a non-tender does not seem out of the question.
There is a good amount of uncertainty with Hudson and Thatcher. But if those two plus Ziegler, Parra, and Collmenter are tendered contracts, the Diamondbacks are looking at an estimated $13.2MM for five arbitration eligible players, plus $600K for Reynolds to bring the total to $13.8MM.
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 Yankees are next in our series. Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.
- David Robertson (5.070): $5.5MM
- Brett Gardner (5.072): $4MM
- Ivan Nova (3.024): $2.8MM
- Shawn Kelley (4.128): $1.5MM
- Jayson Nix (4.127): $1.4MM
- Francisco Cervelli (3.146): $1MM
- Chris Stewart (3.091): $1MM
With 97 holds over the last three seasons, Robertson is tied with Joel Peralta for the most in baseball. Arbitration will reward him with a true setup man salary, and if he takes over the team's closing role in 2014 and succeeds, he'll do well in free agency.
Gardner enters his contract year as well, after posting a career-best 609 plate appearances in 2013 while also establishing personal bests in doubles, triples, home runs, and as you might expect, slugging percentage and isolated power. His first full-time season in center field went well, and he adds value in a lot of different ways. Though Gardner is 30 years old and has yet to earn even $3MM in a season, free agent years could reasonably cost as much as $10MM apiece. If Gardner is amenable to a team-friendly pact in the vein of Carlos Gomez's three-year, $24MM deal, the Yankees should jump on it, but they seem likely to keep with their policy of waiting.
Nova broke camp as in the Yankees' rotation, hitting the DL in April for a triceps injury. Shortly after his return in late May, he was optioned to Triple-A. After being recalled in late June, Nova posted a 2.70 ERA in 116 2/3 innings, locking in a rotation spot for 2014. At this stage, only he and C.C. Sabathia are penciled in.
Kelley didn't start or finish strong, but for the bulk of the season he was the Yankees' seventh inning guy and has a bullpen spot for next year. Cervelli had a rough year, breaking his hand on a foul tip in late April and then getting slapped with a 50-game suspension in August for ties to Biogenesis. The silver lining was that he was able to serve the suspension while on the DL. For a million bucks, I think the Yankees will keep him around for 2014.
Nix and Stewart are backups who both played more than the Yankees planned this year, and are non-tender candidates.
Assuming the Yankees tender contracts to Robertson, Gardner, Nova, Kelley, and Cervelli, they're looking at an estimated $14.8MM for five arbitration eligible players.
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 Twins are next in our series. Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.
- Trevor Plouffe (2.162, Super Two): $2.1MM
- Brian Duensing (4.104): $1.9MM
- Anthony Swarzak (3.038): $800K
Plouffe received 57 more plate appearances in 2013 than 2012, but hit 10 fewer home runs. He may be better served as a platoon option at third base moving forward, but he's still worth retaining at this price.
Duensing had his first season of full-time relief pitching and was serviceable with a 3.98 ERA in 61 innings. He was dominant against lefties, and could have more success in a LOOGY role. Swarzak led all of MLB with 96 relief innings, posting a strong 2.91 ERA. Both pitchers should be part of the Twins' bullpen in 2014.
Assuming the Twins tender contracts to Plouffe, Duensing, and Swarzak, they're looking at an estimated $4.8MM for three arbitration eligible players.
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.
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 Nationals are next in our series. Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.
- Jordan Zimmermann (4.154): $10.5MM
- Ian Desmond (4.027): $6.9MM
- Tyler Clippard (4.148): $6.2MM
- Drew Storen (3.086): $3.6MM
- Stephen Strasburg (3.118): $3.9MM
- Ross Detwiler (4.002): $2.8MM
- Wilson Ramos (3.047): $2.1MM
- Ross Ohlendorf (4.170): $1.3MM
Zimmermann posted the best season of his career in 2013, with 213 1/3 innings of 3.25 ball. He also tied for the NL lead with 19 wins, a number that looks great in arbitration especially with a previous career high of 12. He had Tommy John surgery in August of 2009, and beginning in 2011 posted full season ERAs of 3.18, 2.94, and 3.25. Zimmermann picked up his first All-Star nod this year as well. It's difficult to find a hole in his arbitration case, and a hefty raise is in order for his third time through. Four years ago, Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez signed five-year deals in the $80MM range. Having been a Super Two player, Zimmermann would probably require at least $85MM over five years. The price has gone up since last year, with negotiations expected with the Nationals this winter. The righty told MLB.com's Bill Ladson in August, "I like it here. Obviously, it's the only place that I know. It would be nice to stay long term, but it has to be something fair. I'm just not going to do a team-friendly deal just to stay here long term. If it's a fair deal, then obviously, we'll definitely think about it. But I'm not going to give a huge team discount. Just something fair is all I ask."
Desmond is another extension candidate, after proving 2012 was no fluke by putting up another 20 home run season and duplicating that year's 5.0 wins above replacement. Like Zimmermann, Desmond hasn't jumped at a team-friendly offer yet, and his price tag continues to rise. Elvis Andrus doesn't have much on Desmond aside from age, and he inked an eight-year, $120MM extension with the same amount of service time as Desmond. That contract covered all free agent years, since the Rangers had already locked up Andrus' arbitration seasons, and also includes opt-outs after the fourth and fifth years. Andrus doesn't have Desmond's power, so it's hard to consider them a match. On the other hand, Desmond isn't in Troy Tulowitzki territory. I think one way or another, the Nationals will have to go past $100MM to lock up their shortstop long-term, especially if Desmond insists on receiving eight guaranteed years like Andrus did.
Having compiled 110 holds and 33 saves in his career, Clippard continues to climb up the arbitration ladder. His projected $6.2MM salary is in the range a quality free agent setup man might receive. While he's under control for 2015 as well, his salary at that point will be no bargain. Clippard has given the Nationals five solid seasons, and I wonder if this calls for the old mantra of trading a player a year early rather than a year late. Clippard might still bring solid value on the trade market, especially if an older reliever like Grant Balfour gets something like $18MM over two years.
Another reason Clippard could be on the move is the comments he made in July regarding the Nationals' handling of his friend and fellow reliever Storen. "I just think it’s been handled very poorly," Clippard told reporters of Storen's demotion to Triple-A. Storen himself could be dealt instead after posting a 4.52 ERA in 2013. He did, however, manage a 1.40 ERA in 19 1/3 innings after his recall in mid-August.
Continuing the Nationals' list of big-name arbitration cases, Strasburg is up for the first time following 183 innings of 3.00 ball, in a season that included forearm tightness and a DL stint for a lat strain. A mere eight wins on the season serves to limit his salary, and the budding ace will remain affordable in the near-term. Technically, we would have projected him at $3.4MM had he not earned $3.9MM in 2012, so we expect little to no raise. The Nats control Strasburg through 2016, at which point the Boras client might pursue a big free agent payday at age 28.
A strained oblique and a back strain limited Detwiler to 13 starts, with his last one coming on July 3rd. His arbitration salary is justified, though the Nats could slot Tanner Roark and a free agent into the fourth and fifth slots in the 2014 rotation and move Detwiler.
Ramos is in good standing as the team's starting catcher, though a recurring hamstring injury limited him to 78 games on the season. He still hit a career-best 16 home runs. If the Nats can handle the injury risk, they could try to steal Ramos' arbitration years at $10MM or less, as happened with Nick Hundley, Carlos Ruiz, and Chris Iannetta.
Ohlendorf joined the organization on a minor league deal in January, having his contract purchased in June and staying on as a swingman thereafter but spending time on the DL in August for a shoulder injury. He was pretty good overall in 60 1/3 innings, probably enough so to be tendered a contract.
Assuming Zimmermann, Desmond, Clippard, Storen, Strasburg, Detwiler, Ramos, and Ohlendorf are tendered contracts, the Nationals are looking at an estimated $37.3MM for eight arbitration eligible players.
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 Giants are next in our series. Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.
- Brandon Belt (2.128, Super Two): $2.4MM
- Gregor Blanco (3.164): $2.2MM
- Jose Mijares (5.024): $2.1MM
- Yusmeiro Petit (3.016): $1.3MM
- Joaquin Arias (4.071): $1.2MM
- Tony Abreu (3.170): $700K
Belt, 26 in April, established career bests in most categories and finished strong. He'll go to arbitration four times as a Super Two player, but his first-time salary is held down by modest power numbers. It's possible the Giants could consider an Allen Craig type of contract, perhaps with an adjustment to reflect Belt's Super Two status. Blanco had another useful season, contributing mainly with his glove. It's possible he'll be pushed to a fourth outfielder role next year, but he still provides good value. Arias seems safe as the primary backup infielder.
As a journeyman who cleared waivers as recently as August, I'd normally peg Petit as a non-tender candidate. However, he did a nice job for the Giants in 48 innings, narrowly missing a perfect game in September. He's probably earned himself a roster spot for next year, especially with the Giants facing question marks in the rotation after Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner.
The Giants may lose lefty Javier Lopez to free agency, but still may see fit to non-tender Mijares. The 28-year-old southpaw posted a strong 9.9 K/9, but was beat up by allowing 67 hits in 49 innings. He might rebound next year if he's used more strictly, as he was particularly bad against right-handed hitters. Abreu showed good pop in 147 plate appearances, enduring a couple of stints on the DL. Since his projected salary is barely above the league minimum, he has a chance to stick around.
If Belt, Blanco, Petit, Arias, and Abreu are tendered contracts, the Giants are looking at an estimated $7.8MM for five arbitration eligible players.