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.