The surging Diamondbacks are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series. Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:
Eligible For Free Agency (4)
- Kelly Johnson is the Diamondbacks' biggest free agent and may be a trade candidate if he returns to his 2010 form.
- Melvin Mora had a resurgent 2010 for the Rockies, but he's struggling so far with Arizona. Xavier Nady and Aaron Heilman, also signed to one-year free agent deals, have failed to produce as well.
Contract Options (3)
- Zach Duke: $5.5MM club option with a $750K buyout. Duke is currently rehabbing in the minors after breaking his pitching hand in mid-March. If the lefty is to be retained at a $4.75MM net price, he'll need a solid four months.
- Henry Blanco: $1.15MM mutual option with a $250K buyout.
- Willie Bloomquist: $1.1MM mutual option with a $150K buyout. Kevin Towers dished out three mutual options last offseason, the most of any team. This was just a way to push $400K onto next year's payroll.
Arbitration Eligible (8)
- First time: Juan Gutierrez, Gerardo Parra, Ryan Roberts
- Second time: Josh Wilson, Micah Owings
- Third time: Joe Saunders, Miguel Montero, Sean Burroughs
Parra and Roberts will be on the Super Two borderline, assuming it is around two years and 146 days. Saunders is the big money case, as he's working from a $5.5MM salary. However, if he continues along with an ERA over 5.00, he'll probably be non-tendered. Montero will still provide good value, though the catcher's salary could climb past $5MM. Gutierrez's salary should remain reasonable, while Wilson, Owings, and Burroughs will probably be cut loose. If Saunders is cut, Arizona's arbitration eligibles shouldn't cost much more than $8MM.
2012 Payroll Obligation
The Diamondbacks' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $28.908MM if Duke's option is declined. Throw in $8MM for arbitration eligibles and the D'Backs are still about $20MM under their 2011 payroll before accounting for minimum salary players. The payroll exceeded $70MM in each of the two previous years, and a return to that level would give Towers over $30MM in 2012 salaries to work with.