Arbitration Eligibles Rumors

Projected Arbitration Salaries

As explained in these three posts, Matt Swartz has developed a very accurate model for MLBTR to project arbitration salaries.  By my count there are 196 remaining arbitration eligible players.   Click here to download an Excel spreadsheet with our projected salaries, or click below to see everything.


Arbitration Eligibles Series

Today we completed our analysis of the arbitration eligible players for all 30 teams, over 200 players in total.  The biggest names include Tim Lincecum, Matt Kemp, Cole Hamels, Hunter Pence, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, and Jacoby Ellsbury.  Matt Swartz has done incredible work for MLBTR creating a model to project 2012 arbitration salaries, and those projections are used throughout the 30 posts.  We'll have much more from Matt on the topic later this month.  Below are links to each arbitration eligibles post, which also include payroll flexibility estimates.

AL East

AL Central

AL West

NL East

NL Central

NL West

Arbitration Eligibles: St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals' offseason has yet to begin, and once it does Albert Pujols will be the primary concern.  GM John Mozeliak will also have to address the situations of four arbitration eligible players, and we look at them today as we finish off this series.

Theriot projects for a $3.9MM salary and is likely to be non-tendered.  The statuses of Rafael Furcal, Nick Punto, and Schumaker will be factors, but Theriot makes too much money to continue on as a bench player and he's not the team's first choice at either middle infield position.  Schumaker is a non-tender candidate as well, though he's more versatile than Theriot and projects at a more affordable $3.1MM.  Motte ($1.7MM) and McClellan ($2.7MM) will be part of next year's club.  

If the Cardinals exercise their club options for Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, and Octavio Dotel, they'll have about $84MM in contractual commitments.  Add $4.4MM for Motte and McClellan and they're at $88.3MM before accounting for minimum salary players.  A $110MM payroll would leave over $20MM in flexibility.  One can certainly picture scenarios where a new Pujols contract fits in, though they'd probably have to take payroll a bit higher to sign Furcal and a few other minor pieces.  A trip to the World Series helps the payroll situation.

Arbitration Eligibles: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks are next in our arbitration eligibles series.

Hammock ($900K), Burroughs ($600K), and Owings ($800K) are likely non-tender candidates.  Hammock was barely on the Diamondbacks' 40-man roster, so they probably won't feel the need to keep him there.  Burroughs was outrighted in June and re-added, so he could be expendable.  And while Owings was useful on the surface, he's a pitcher the team could non-tender and try to re-sign to a minor league deal.

Parra, a potential Super Two, projects to earn $1.7MM.  Roberts projects for the same, and we have Ziegler at $1.8MM.  Montero should make a decent buck at around $5.3MM.

We project Saunders for $8.7MM, which might be high for an innings guy who shouldn't be expected to repeat his 3.69 ERA.  D'Backs GM Kevin Towers indicated recently that a non-tender or trade is possible, depending on the team's budget and their confidence in their younger pitchers.  I think Towers would find a team willing to tender Saunders a contract.

If Parra, Roberts, Ziegler, Montero, and Saunders are retained, the total should be around $19.2MM.  If Willie Bloomquist and Henry Blanco return at their mutual option prices, players under contract will earn $30.758MM for a total of about $50MM before accounting for minimum salary players.  A return to the $70MM payroll range would leave around $20MM in flexibility, with the subtraction of Saunders potentially bringing that amount closer to $29MM.

Towers told Nick Piecoro he doesn't see "big, big needs" for his team but wouldn't rule out the right marquee player.  As a team free of eight-figure commitments, the D'Backs have the flexibility to make a major addition this offseason.

Matt Swartz contributed to this post.

Arbitration Eligibles: Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers came up short last night, and now one of the many concerns for GM Doug Melvin will be the status of his nine arbitration eligible players.

Kottaras, Stetter, Wilson, and Parra appear to be non-tender candidates.  Parra missed all of 2011, eventually needing elbow surgery, and he'd be owed a minimum of $960K if tendered a contract.  The other three are in the $700-800K range, so a case could be made for keeping them.  Kottaras was viewed as expendable by the Brewers when they outrighted him in April, though he ended up being useful in limited duty.  Stetter missed most of the season with a hip injury, while Wilson didn't do anything noteworthy.

We can't rule out the possibility of a McGehee non-tender, but a trade seems more likely.  The 29-year-old third baseman had a lost 2011 season, but he hit .291/.346/.477 over 1,064 plate appearances the previous two years.  At a projected $3.1MM, some team will want to give him a shot.

Marcum is the team's most expensive arbitration eligible player at a projected $6.8MM.  Peers such as Matt Garza, Jeremy Guthrie, John Danks, and Joe Saunders project in the $8-9MM range, so we'll have to see if they lift Marcum up a bit.  Loe ($2.8MM), Morgan ($1.9MM), and Gomez ($1.8MM) should also be tendered contracts.  Gomez had a rough year, missing time with a broken clavicle, but at $1.8MM his defense should make him worth retaining.

Including buyouts for Yuniesky Betancourt and Francisco Rodriguez, the Brewers have about $58.58MM in contractual commitments for 2012.  If they retain McGehee, Morgan, Loe, Marcum, and Gomez, that'd add $16.4MM for a total of about $75MM.  Assuming a steady payroll, that'd leave less than $9MM in 2012 flexibility before accounting for minimum salary players.  McGehee's salary could be shedded, but without a payroll increase the Brewers do not have much room to spend this winter.  

Arbitration Eligibles: San Francisco Giants

The Giants are next in our arbitration eligibles series.

With 13 arbitration eligible players, the Giants are tied with the Padres for having the biggest group we've reviewed so far.  The difference?  Lincecum projects to earn about as much as all 13 arbitration eligible Padres combined.

Lincecum is primed for a historic arbitration case, as I explained in detail in May.  At that time, one agent told me, "This negotiation will transcend arbitration and will be a mini free agency discussion."  The $19MM figure mentioned by agents at the time holds up under Matt Swartz's arbitration projection system, which predicts $19.2MM assuming Lincecum is working from a $14.1MM base in 2011.  No matter what the exact number, Lincecum will set an arbitration record unless he signs a multiyear deal.  He's open to another two-year contract, and I think something like $35MM would be a good deal for the club.  Keep in mind that Lincecum will otherwise be arbitration eligible one last time for 2013.

Giants GM Brian Sabean admitted to reporters in September that the team will probably not bring all 13 arbitration eligible players back.  Sanchez, with a projected $5.2MM salary, would seem a prime non-tender candidate.  However, Sabean suggested Sanchez would be in the rotation mix next year.  Sabean said Keppinger "might be a luxury item" for next year, since Freddy Sanchez is under contract.  At a projected $2.7MM, I think the Giants will be able to make a trade if they feel Sanchez is ready.

I think Torres at a projected $2.5MM is a candidate to be non-tendered.  Fontenot ($1.3MM), Whiteside ($700K), and Burriss ($600K) are on the bubble as well.  That leaves Sandoval ($3.2MM), Vogelsong ($2.5MM), Ramirez ($2.3MM), Casilla ($1.9MM), Romo ($1.3MM), and Schierholtz ($1.2MM) as players you can expect back in 2012.   

If Torres, Fontenot, Burriss, and Whiteside are non-tendered, the remaining nine could cost the Giants an estimated $39.5MM.  Sabean expects a $124MM payroll.  The team owes $72.433MM to players under contract, if Jeremy Affeldt's buyout is excluded but Aaron Rowand's salary is included.  Add the arbitration group and we're up at $112MM, $12MM shy of Sabean's payroll figure, before minimum salary players are considered.  The Giants expect to re-sign Affeldt, and perhaps a center fielder/leadoff man.  That might be all they can afford, but as Sabean indicated, the team's flexibility will hinge on how much money they allocate toward retaining their top pitchers.

Matt Swartz contributed to this post.

Arbitration Eligibles: Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are next in our arbitration eligibles series.

Should Kershaw win the Cy Young award, our model projects a record-shattering first-time pitcher salary of $8.4MM.  Tim Lincecum had two Cy Youngs under his belt when he submitted for $13MM against the Giants' $8MM figure in February of 2010.  We know Lincecum would have gotten one of those two figures had he not signed an extension.  Kershaw's agents, the Hendricks brothers, could position their client as Lincecum Lite.  Kershaw won't have the two Cys but he will have almost 120 more innings, seven more wins, and pretty much the same ERA Lincecum did.

Kemp could bring an MVP award or at least a lot of votes to the arbitration table.  Matt Swartz's work for MLBTR has shown that MVP and Cy Young awards boost salary more for first-time arbitration eligibles, so Kemp's huge payday may come mostly from his stellar stats.  The model projects a $16.3MM salary for Kemp, though admittedly a $9.35MM raise might be a tough sell for his agent Dave Stewart.  Matt explained to me, "There's just no one in recent history who has the kind of AVG/SB combined with the HR/RBI like Kemp, so he’s basically getting a Prince Fielder/Ryan Howard raise and a B.J. Upton/Corey Patterson raise at the same time."  Matt notes that the Kemp and Kershaw projections have the widest error bars, because there is so little precedent for them.

Ethier will be well-paid as well; he projects at $10.7MM.  That represents a pretty small raise from the last year of his two-year deal, as Ethier was lacking in counting stats this year.  A few days ago, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told ESPN's Jim Bowden he's not inclined to trade Ethier.  Colletti said in September he'd love to have Loney back; we think the first baseman could get $6.5MM in arbitration.  Kuo, a non-tender candidate, projects at a salary reduction to about $2.5MM.  Gwynn is on the bubble as well; he could make $1.1MM in arbitration.

If all six arbitration eligible Dodgers are retained, the total could reach a staggering $45MM.  But if Loney, Kuo, and Gwynn are deemed too expensive at arbitration prices, that'd trim about $10MM.  Cot's Baseball Contracts shows contractual commitments totaling $46.2MM for 2012, including $11.5MM for Manny Ramirez and Andruw Jones.  Even the high-end arbitration estimate puts the Dodgers around $90MM before accounting for minimum salary players, and that's $30MM below the 2011 Opening Day payroll.  Further savings could be found through trades or non-tenders, or reduced salaries in long-term deals for Kershaw and/or Kemp.  The team's ownership turmoil figures to result in a reduced payroll, but Colletti seems to think he can afford some significant free agents.

Matt Swartz contributed to this post.

Arbitration Eligibles: Cincinnati Reds

The Reds are next in our arbitration eligibles series.

I see Burton as the most likely non-tender candidate, though he projects for only $900K.  The 30-year-old righty missed most of the season due to a shoulder issue.

Many of the remaining arbitration eligibles disappointed in 2011, but will probably be tendered contracts.  A projected salary rundown: Masset ($2.4MM), Volquez ($2.3MM), Bailey ($1.8MM), Arredondo ($1MM), Janish ($800K).  Janish seems the most likely of this group to be non-tendered, but I think his defense and low salary will save him.  The Reds could trim payroll by trading a few of these players though.

If Masset, Volquez, Bailey, Arredondo, and Janish are retained, the cost should be around $8.3MM.  Excluding buyouts for Francisco Cordero and Brandon Phillips, the Reds have $50.558MM in 2012 contractual commitments according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.  The five arbitration eligibles would bring them to about $59MM before minimum salary players are considered, which is about $22MM below the 2011 Opening Day payroll of $81MM.  GM Walt Jocketty expects to bump up payroll a little, but the majority of the surplus will probably go to Phillips and Cordero.

Matt Swartz contributed to this post.

Arbitration Eligibles: Colorado Rockies

The Rockies are next in our arbitration eligibles series.

Having signed Troy Tulowitzki, Jason Hammel, Matt Lindstrom, Chris Iannetta, and Carlos Gonzalez to multiyear deals, the Rockies are left with only four arbitration eligible players.

Stewart and Spilborghs are non-tender candidates.  Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd recently said he's willing to give Stewart another opportunity, implying he will pay the $2MM or so that will be required if the third baseman is tendered a contract in December.  Two months remain until the non-tender deadline, however.  There is a case to keep Spilborghs at an approximate $2MM despite his 2011 struggles.  The 32-year-old had been a very useful fourth outfielder prior to this year and may have trade value at that price.

As a potential Super Two, Fowler projects to fall in the $2MM range as well.  Smith, who would be around $2.6MM, has been mentioned as potential trade bait should the Rockies sign an outfielder.

Cot's Baseball Contracts shows the Rockies have about $61MM owed to players under contract for next year.  If all four arbitration eligibles are retained, they'd be around $70MM before accounting for minimum salary players.  The Rockies would have around $13MM in 2012 flexibility, though as much as $18MM more could be cleared if the team non-tenders or trades Stewart, Spilborghs, Smith, Huston Street, and Ty Wigginton.

Matt Swartz contributed to this post.

Arbitration Eligibles: San Diego Padres

The Padres are next in our arbitration eligibles series.

With 13 arbitration eligible players, the Padres have the biggest class of the 23 teams we've reviewed to date.  It's not a terribly expensive group, however, with no individual projected to exceed a $3MM salary.

The Padres have plenty of non-tender candidates.  September waiver claim Fulchino had a rough year; he'd earn $800K or so.  Others on the bubble include Thatcher ($800K), Johnson ($700K), Gonzalez ($800K), and Hermida ($500K).  There are reasons to retain several of them.  Thatcher had a lost 2011 season due to April shoulder surgery, but a strong 2010.  Gonzalez plays capable defense.  Hermida was a late waiver claim who may merit a look in 2012.

Headley ($3MM), Stauffer ($3MM), Richard ($2MM), Moseley ($1.8MM), Venable ($1.8MM), Hundley ($1.6MM), Gregerson ($1.3MM), and Denorfia ($1.2MM) are on firmer ground.  Richard and Moseley had decent but low-strikeout seasons cut short this summer due to shoulder surgery.  There are also concerns with guys like Venable and Gregerson, but the prices aren't scary.

I don't expect all 13 players to be retained, but their combined salaries project for about $19.3MM.  The Padres have just $13.55MM in 2012 contractual commitments, mostly from their middle infield.  Adding the arbitration eligibles puts the team at $33MM in commitments next year, before minimum salary players are considered.  Next year's payroll is expected to be in the $53-55MM range, leaving around $20MM in 2012 salaries for GM Jed Hoyer to allocate toward another group of low-risk, moderate reward free agents.

Matt Swartz contributed to this post.