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.