The Diamondbacks Payroll in 2012: Updated

Stephen Drew will be the best-paid Diamondback next year.

We looked at the costs of the 2012 Diamondbacks back in September, but obviously, a good deal of water - and not a few players - have gone under the bridge since then. So with the 2012 roster apparently now close to complete, or possibly even a little over-full, let's revisit the numbers and see what's changed, what the new costs are, and whether there might be any spare change down the back of the couch to pay for anyone else.

The team had a $65 million payroll in 2011. What might the number be next year? Kevin Towers talked about that a little bit at the end of October. The overall budget, which also includes the draft, international signings and operating expenses, is expected to be the same. However, it's significant that the breakdown may be different: "The great beauty of being here with Ken and Derrick is that it's kind of up to me on how I want to allocate the money. A lot depends on the strength of the Draft, the depth of the Draft, how good things are internationally and how much we think we need to spend to be as good or better than we were last year."

This would seem to hint at a payroll increase, because we won't be spending anywhere near as much on the draft, not having two picks in the top seven. This time, #3 Trevor Bauer got $3.4 million, #7 Archie Bradley $5 million, and supplemental round compensation pick #43 Andrew Chafin $875K - Bradley got most, as a 'two sport' player (though as bb pointed out, his deal is spread over several years. To avoid pure guesswork and complication, I'll ignore that aspect). If we assume everything from round two on is the same (that's likely being conservative and/or allowing for inflation, since we will be picking a lot lower each round in 2012), that gives us a total of $9.275 million spent on the first and supplemental rounds last year.

But next June, Arizona's only selection there will be down at #26. The 2011 pick there was Blake Swihart, who got $2.5 million from the Red Sox, but thus was significantly over 'slot' - the MLB recommended amount for that position on the order. The #26 slot number was just shy of $1.2 million; Swihart got more than double, as a high-schooler who had strongly committed to attend the University of Texas. Let's split the difference somewhat, and call it $1.775 million for the Diamondbacks to sign their top pick. A number which, conveniently if not entirely by accident, means Arizona will spend $7.5 million less on the draft.

This does not necessarily equate to $7.5 million more on payroll. The team may opt to spend more in Latin America, for instance, continuing their growth which has seen them triple the number of scouts in the area since 2007. However, it's an area where the team has generally been cautious, Nick Piecoro saying they "have considered it too risky to hand out seven-figure bonuses to 16- and 17-year-olds. They believe that even with the current uptick in spending, future stars still can be unearthed with a modest budget." A case in point would be Miguel Montero, whose signing bonus was just $13,000. I hope he enjoyed his used car...

It's likely spending there won't increase by much, even if it was particularly restrained in 2011, due to the high draft spending. Let's allocate an extra million there, and transfer the rest over to the payroll budget. That would give the team a figure of $71.5 million for 2012, a little higher than most estimates. What have we got in commitments for next season? Here's the list - arbitration estimates are from Nick P. except for Breslow; he earned $150K more than Brad Ziegler in both men's first year of arb, so I've bumped the gap up a bit for their second year.

Starting Position Players

Bench Position Players

There's a crunch coming here: in the wake of the Kubel signing, the team now has 14 players under contract, and the 'standard' roster has 13 position players and 12 pitchers. Initially, there were thoughts Kubel's arrival would be rapidly followed by a trade of Young or Parra, but that particular kettle seems to have gone off the boil. From a point of view of payroll, it doesn't make a great deal of difference - Arizona is on the hook, regardless of what happens to the players - but in the bigger picture, it seems that the club is preparing its roster as if Drew will not be ready for Opening Day.

Rotation

Bullpen

Other

As with the position players, there's a potential squeeze here, as we also have Rule 5 pick, right-handed reliever Brett Lorin - if he isn't kept on the 25-man roster, he has to be offered back to the Pirates. I'm just not seeing any space for him with the current signings, barring injury. Given subsequent signings, it appears the expectation all along all along was to take him from Pittsburgh, then work out some kind of trade during spring training, as was done with James Skelton. Hopefully, this one would work out better - Skelton was last seen hitting .221 in the Reds farm system.

So, what's left?

With a fifth spot in the rotation still needing to be filled, we have 25 players under contract. With minimum set at $480,000 under the new CBA [expect the likes of Parra, Kennedy, etc. to get a little icing on top], this adds up to: Starting position players = $42.48 million; the bench = $7.38 million; the rotation = $4.94, with one slot left to be filled; the bullpen = $12.19 million. Add Duke's buy out, and that's a total of $67.74 million in commitments, not including the fifth starter. The team could go for one of their prospects at league minimum, but would appear to have some flexibility to pay $4 million or so if they want someone with experience.

It's likely not enough to pull in one of the big names, like Hiroki Kuroda. But in all likelihood, we're only looking for someone on a one-year contract: if none of our prospects are considered credible quite yet, they should be by the start of 2013. Signings thus far in the off-season which show the sort of pitcher available include Erik Bedard, Freddie Garcia and Chien-Ming Wang, who all signed one-year deals in the $4-4.5 million range. Scope out the list of remaining free-agents [click on the column header to sort it], and see if anyone there appeals. I'd be thinking "high upside" personally, since we have replacement candidates. Hey, Brandon Webb's still available...

Of course, it doesn't necessarily have to be spent on a starting pitcher. It could be another bullpen arm, more help for the bench or even a third-baseman. It doesn't even have to be spent at all during the off-season; the team could hold the money back, to address needs as they arise during the season, perhaps to take on board a salary dump at the trade deadline for the push down the stretch. That's what the poll and comments sections are for...

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