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Arbitration Eligibles Rumors
The Cubs are next in our arbitration eligibles series.
- First time: Randy Wells, Blake DeWitt
- Second time: Geovany Soto
- Third time: Matt Garza, Jeff Baker, Koyie Hill
Hill is the most likely non-tender in this group. However, he'd only get a mild raise to $850K, and it's quite possible the Cubs keep him around due to defense, familiarity with the pitching staff, and other intangibles.
Wells ($2.2MM), Soto ($4MM), and Baker ($1.4MM) had disappointing seasons, but should be part of the 2012 club. DeWitt showed enough promise to be worth $1.2MM. Garza represents the Cubs' headline arbitration case, and we project $8.7MM for him. Jeremy Guthrie and John Danks will be current comparables for Garza. There is not much recent precedent for a pitcher with this type of track record to make it to his third arbitration year.
If the Cubs retain all six of their arbitration eligibles, we project $18.4MM in total salary. Assuming Ryan Dempster exercises his player option and Aramis Ramirez doesn't get a new contract prior to his option decision, the Cubs have around $91MM in 2012 commitments before accounting for minimum salary players. If payroll remains in the $134MM range, the Cubs would have around $40MM to spend in 2012 salaries.
Matt Swartz contributed to this post.
The Nationals are next in our arbitration eligibles series.
- First time: Tyler Clippard, Jordan Zimmermann
- Second time: John Lannan, Michael Morse, Doug Slaten
- Third time: Tom Gorzelanny, Jesus Flores
Slaten battled a sore elbow this year, tossing only 16 1/3 innings in the Majors. At $900K he'd be cheap to retain, but he is a candidate to be non-tendered. Flores' shoulder injury knocked him down the Nationals' catching depth chart, and they could look to trade him before the December 12th non-tender deadline. We project a salary of around $800K, so some team will likely take a chance if the Nationals don't. Gorzelanny cleared waivers in August, indicating no team found him a good value at a $2.1MM salary this year. Next year it'd be around $2.8MM through arbitration. His strikeout and walk rates in 15 starts this year were solid, though his suitors may wait out the Nats to see if they tender him a contract.
Lannan ($4.8MM), Morse ($3.7MM), Zimmermann ($1.8MM), and Clippard ($1.7MM) all project to be relatively affordable and part of the 2012 Nationals. The four players project to earn a total of $12MM next year.
Including that $12MM, the Nationals have about $57MM in 2012 commitments before accounting for minimum salary players. Holding payroll steady at this year's $68MM wouldn't leave much flexibility, but the Nats are capable of going beyond that number in their offseason quest to add a starting pitcher and an outfielder.
The Astros are next in our arbitration eligibles series.
- First time: J.A. Happ, Alberto Arias
- Second time: None
- Third time: None
- Fourth time: Humberto Quintero
Having traded Hunter Pence, Michael Bourn, and Jeff Keppinger in July, the Astros are left with few arbitration concerns. Arias has missed the last two seasons due to shoulder issues, and is likely to be cut loose.
Happ will be tendered a contract, and should land around $2.3MM. Quintero has at least been a consistent backup catcher, and it'd cost $1.2MM to retain him.
Add $3.5MM for Happ and Quintero to the team's $47.25MM in 2012 commitments, and the Astros are around $51MM before accounting for minimum salary players. They entered this season with a $77MM payroll, so there's room to tinker on the free agent market and perhaps add some veteran placeholders.
The Pirates are next in our arbitration eligibles series.
- First time: Evan Meek, Garrett Jones, Charlie Morton, Chris Resop, Steven Pearce, Brandon Wood
- Second time: Ross Ohlendorf, Joel Hanrahan, Jeff Karstens, Jose Veras
- Third time: Jason Grilli
While the Pirates have a large quantity of arbitration eligible players (11), no one projects to make even $4MM in 2012. Pearce, Wood, and Ohlendorf may be on the non-tender bubble. Pearce and Wood would barely make more than the league minimum, though Ohlendorf would likely stay around $2MM. Jones remains useful against right-handed pitching and I think that justifies a potential $2.4MM salary.
Relievers Meek, Resop, Veras, Grilli, and Hanrahan figure to be tendered contracts. Each should fall between $800K and $1.5MM, with the exception of Hanrahan, whose saves should propel him to $3.9MM. Starters Morton ($2.2MM) and Karstens ($2.8MM) will remain affordable as well.
If Meek, Jones, Morton, Resop, Hanrahan, Karstens, Veras, and Grilli are retained, the total could be around $16MM. Assuming Ronny Cedeno's option is declined, the Pirates will have around $26MM committed next year before accounting for minimum salary players. With payroll expected to rise from this year's $42MM Opening Day figure, the Bucs could have a good $20MM in 2012 flexibility.
The Phillies won their hundredth game last night, and with two games remaining against Atlanta they have a hand in determining who they'll play when the NLDS begins Saturday. But for the moment, let's look ahead to their arbitration class as the next entry in our arbitration eligibles series.
- First time: Wilson Valdez
- Second time: Kyle Kendrick, Ben Francisco, Pete Orr
- Third time: Hunter Pence
- Fourth time: Cole Hamels
There is a case for non-tendering Valdez and Orr, though neither player would earn even $1MM in 2012. Francisco and Kendrick seem useful enough at $1.5MM and $3.3MM, respectively.
Pence and Hamels are the big-money cases. Pence projects at $11MM, a $4.1MM raise after he won his arbitration hearing in February for $6.9MM. Hamels signed a three-year extension in January of '09, but smartly left his final arbitration year open. With a $9.5MM salary this year, he's in line for more than $14MM in 2012. The Phillies plan to give Hamels a couple of relief innings tomorrow, with an eye on possibly getting him his 15th win. Matt Swartz tweets that the gesture would cost them an extra $200K in arbitration if successful, according to our model.
Retaining Kendrick, Francisco, Pence, and Hamels could cost about $30MM for 2012. Including Roy Oswalt's buyout, the Phillies project to have about $143MM in 2012 commitments before accounting for minimum salary players. That's about $23MM less than this year's Opening Day payroll.
Matt Swartz contributed to this post.
The Mets are next in our arbitration eligibles series.
- First time: Manny Acosta
- Second time: Mike Pelfrey
- Third time: Ronny Paulino
- Fourth time: Angel Pagan, Taylor Buchholz
It appears likely that the Mets will tender Pelfrey a contract, perhaps for the value of providing innings and the possibility that he'll be a little better next year. We have his salary in the $5.9MM range. Pagan is another player on the bubble. He projects for $4.7MM and is an easy choice to tender if the Mets consider his 2011 UZR a fluke. Buchholz missed most of the season for a shoulder injury and depression; he projects around $1.2MM.
Acosta and Paulino will be affordable, at about $1MM and $1.5MM respectively. They figure to be tendered contracts.
The Mets have $66.83MM in 2012 commitments before accounting for minimum salary players, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. If everyone but Buchholz remains, that puts them near $80MM plus Tim Byrdak's salary. Mets GM Sandy Alderson implied earlier this month that the team may cut payroll to the $100-110MM range. That'd leave enough money for Jose Reyes and a few other pieces, and that's assuming most arbitration eligible players are tendered and no one is traded.
Matt Swartz contributed to this post.
The Marlins are next in our arbitration eligibles series.
- First time: Chris Volstad, Emilio Bonifacio, Donnie Murphy, Brian Sanches, John Baker
- Second time: Clay Hensley, Edward Mujica, Burke Badenhop
- Third time: Anibal Sanchez
- Fourth time: Leo Nunez
Volstad is probably interesting enough where the Marlins won't want to cut him loose. His projected $2.6MM salary shouldn't scare anyone off, but perhaps the Fish will trade him if they don't envision him in next year's rotation. Even with a $600K projection, I think Murphy will be non-tendered. Sanches is looking at about $1MM, and there's a chance the team lets him go. Baker had Tommy John surgery a year ago, and the Marlins must decide whether he can catch next year and is worth $800K. The Hensley starting experiment failed, but at $1.8MM I think he still has value as a reliever.
Everyone else seems on firmer ground to be tendered contracts: Bonifacio ($1.9MM), Mujica ($1.6MM), Badenhop ($1.1MM), Sanchez ($5.9MM), and Nunez ($5.8MM). Sanchez could be an extension candidate. We heard in July that Nunez would be retained for 2012; I don't know if his shaky August changed that. He has performance bonuses for games finished, which could push next year's salary past $6MM.
We've heard quite a bit about the Marlins' willingness to spend money this offseason, but these arbitration decisions are not as much about whether the team can afford the players but rather whether the players are worth their projected salaries. I think we're looking at $12.3MM if only Bonifacio, Hensley, Mujica, Badenhop, and Sanchez stay and the others are traded or non-tendered. That'd push the team's commitments to about $58MM before accounting for arbitration eligible players, but you can add as much as $9MM more if you see Nunez and Volstad on next year's team.
MLB.com's Joe Frisaro has estimated a significant bump to an $80MM payroll, which in my estimation means anywhere from $13-22MM to spend depending on Nunez and Volstad. Say it's $22MM. The team has potential needs at center field, third base, second base, the bullpen, and especially the rotation, so if the Marlins sign just one player with an eight-figure salary they'd have to skimp on other needs. Someone like C.J. Wilson makes more sense to me if the team is willing to jump to a $90MM payroll as they head into their new stadium.
Matt Swartz contributed to this post.
The Braves are next in our arbitration eligibles series.
- First time: None
- Second time: Jair Jurrjens, Martin Prado, Eric O'Flaherty
- Third time: Michael Bourn, Peter Moylan
Moylan had back surgery in May and returned in September, he'll have a low innings total for 2011. That should hold his salary at $2MM, and I think the Braves will retain him assuming they consider him healthy.
We've got Bourn down for a raise of nearly $3MM, up to $7.2MM. Jurrjens projects for a fairly modest raise to $5.1MM. He's tallied fewer than 300 innings over the last two seasons, and that hurts his arbitration earnings. Prado is looking at about $4.4MM and O'Flaherty could get $2.4MM.
Our total for the Braves' five arbitration eligible players is $21.1MM. Assuming Eric Hinske's option is picked up, the Braves would have about $88MM in commitments before accounting for minimum salary players. That's only about $3MM below this year's Opening Day payroll of $91MM, though they have exceeded $100MM twice in the last decade.
Matt Swartz contributed to this post.
The Rangers are next in our arbitration eligibles series.
- First time: Andres Blanco, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison
- Second time: Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, Darren O'Day
- Third time: Colby Lewis, Mike Adams, Mark Lowe
- Fourth time: Mike Napoli
The Rangers face one of the more sizeable arbitration classes we've encountered so far in the American League. Blanco could be cut if the Rangers don't want to guarantee him a roster spot, though we're estimating only about $500K for his salary. Lewis' $3.25MM club option is a slam dunk, as we're estimating a $6MM salary if he goes to arbitration.
Napoli's fantastic offensive year should push his salary to the $8.5MM range. Cruz has again battled injuries, but he's in line for a healthy $6MM salary. Deadline acquisition Mike Adams is looking at about $4.3MM in his last year before free agency. Andrus, Harrison, and Murphy fall within the $2.6-3.2MM range, while relievers Lowe and O'Day project for $1.3-1.4MM.
All told the Rangers have a pretty expensive group, at an estimated $30MM not including Lewis and Blanco. They have about $101MM in commitments for next year once you add Lewis and Yoshinori Tateyama but before minimum salary players are included. That'd mark the Rangers' first foray past the $100MM mark since the Alex Rodriguez days, so you can see that simply squeezing in C.J. Wilson might require GM Jon Daniels to move some pieces around. On the other hand, attendance is up over 5,000 tickets per game this year and payroll figures to be on the rise.
The Mariners are next in our arbitration eligibles series.
- First time: Shawn Kelley
- Second time: Jason Vargas
- Third time: David Aardsma, Luis Rodriguez
- Fourth time: Brandon League
Aardsma and Rodriguez are the primary non-tender candidates. Aardsma's salary in arbitration would remain close to $4.5MM and can't go below $3.6MM. Since he had Tommy John surgery in July, that wouldn't be good value. Rodriguez is a $700K type player, but he hasn't done anything noteworthy this year. Kelley also projects for $700K. Fully recovered from Tommy John, I think the Mariners will keep him around for 2012.
Vargas and League should each land in the $4.2-4.5MM range for 2012. They're both trade candidates, especially League having saved 34 games and counting.
If Kelley, Vargas, and League are retained, that should add around $9.4MM to the team's commitments, bringing the total to about $69MM before accounting for minimum salary players. That'd be about $26MM short of the 2011 payroll, so the team has flexibility.