Reds: Arbitration Eligibles, Thoughts on Free Agents and Payroll


The deadline for tendering a contract for arbitration eligibles is fast approaching. On Friday, the clock will run out and the Reds will either have to offer a deal to the following players or they will be considered “non-tendered” and will take the free agent route. We have already seen a pair of Reds have to take that road in Bill Bray and Wilson Valdez.

So what of the remaining seven players? Well, here’s a chart that might be able to help us. Once you see this, it might make things a little clearer as to why the Reds may not be hunting a lot during the upcoming Winter Meetings.

First off, the 2013 column is an estimate of what that specific player may make through the arbitration process. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors has a complete listing along with these estimates.

Second, you will notice by Heisey and Ondrusek the “S2” as they are considered Super-2’s. For a complete definition of what denotes a Super 2, head here. Read the answer about when a player is eligible for arbitration.

Could the Reds non-tender Ondrusek? (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

Finally, Dierkes also has a list of potential non-tender candidates. Bray and Valdez are on it. So are Ondrusek (right) and Stubbs.

All right. Now that a little of the backdrop has been painted, let’s go back to the comment I made before the unveiling of this little table.

Let’s say all these players are tendered and the salaries Dierkes estimates is spot on. The Reds will be paying these seven players more than $13MM over what they made for 2012.

According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Reds are already committed to $71.1MM for next season; however, the deferral due to Bronson Arroyo ($15MM) and the signing bonus awarded to Aroldis Chapman ($16.25MM) are divided by the length of the contract and not figured by the terms as laid out on the site. Arroyo will make $6MM plus his deferral (paid through 2021, estimated to $1.5MM per year as $15MM for ten years from time of extension…which is my guess) and Chapman is slated for $2MM plus a $1.5MM portion of his signing bonus. In adjusting for this, Arroyo would make $7.5MM while Chapman is due $3.5MM instead of $11.5MM and $4.7MM, respectively. That’s $5.2MM provided my thinking is on the mark.

Reworking…the $71.1MM shown might be more like $65.9MM.

So I found an extra $5+MM…maybe.

Even if we take the low-ball of $65.9MM. Add that $18.5MM based on the estimates of Dierkes and your “adjusted total” is $84.4MM. The 2012 Opening Day payroll for the Reds was $87.8MM. If the Reds are to have a payroll of $92MM (as has been estimated by John Fay), that only leaves $7.6MM “in the coffers” as beeker would say.

Keep this in mind. Fay used the $71MM number and his estimate for the arbs is $14MM. Even going that route, we are only about $1.5MM apart in comparing our estimates.

Could the payroll be higher? Possibly, but since Bob Castellini has been the guy in the upstairs office, the Reds have been perceived as being on the conservative side regarding adding to payroll. Here’s a look since 2006, the year Mr. C became the Reds’ Chief Executive Officer.

2012: $ 87,826,167
2011: $ 80,826,667
2010: $ 76,151,500
2009: $ 73,558,500
2008: $ 74,117,695
2007: $ 68,904,980
2006: $ 60,909,519

Based on these figures, I have to agree with Fay that $92MM may be the number. $94MM would be probably be the ceiling. In a another year or so, the payroll will top $100MM.

And in Castellini’s defense (like he needs one), payroll has increased by a total of almost $27MM in seven years. With a pair of playoff appearances now under his belt, one could be thinking that Castellini might be prepared to up the funds a little more than as has been the case in the past.

One can dream, right?

No question Stubbs had a forgettable 2012. Could that lead to him not being tendered a contract? (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

Back to the non-tenders for a moment. If Dierkes is correct and the Reds do not tender Logan Ondrusek and Drew Stubbs, there’s roughly another $3.5MM. I can see both happening, but not due to strictly economics, but maybe more by their performances. Ondrusek struggled in the second half of 2012 and eventually lost his “spot” on the post-season roster to J.J. Hoover. Stubbs was mired in an epic slump for the most part of the season, especially the second half.

The only other route that could free up some funds is to pursue is a trade. Walt Jocketty did such when he traded for Mat Latos. Granted, the Reds are now “paying” for that trade as in paying with actual money that Latos will surely get during the arbitration process.

With all of this now in rattling in your mind, remember…

If you’re one that pines for a return of Josh Hamilton. If you’re one that would love for the Reds to go after Michael Bourn. If you’re one that wants the Redlegs to trade for a big name, big money player and send a bunch of prospects, please re-read this post.

Those and other moves simply will not happen due to the economics. Baseball is a sport and a game.

But it is also a business.

(UPDATE: With the Broxton signing, you can now add $4MM to the 2013 payroll. Now, addressing lead-off and/or another power bat may scream of a trade in order for those roles to be filled.)