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Wage Hard

The signing of all our arbitration-eligible players at the end of last week should effectively allows the team to draw a line in the book as far as Opening Day payroll goes. Or, at least, to the best of our ability. When you start looking in to this, you'll soon find that the whole topic has more variables and vagaries than Hollywood box-office accounting. When we're trying to work with these figures, the uncertainties soon start to pile up. Should the signing bonuses, still being paid to Drew and Upton, be taken in account? What about Max Scherzer's "major-league" deal? Or deferred money, and the interest thereof?

That said, here is the almost certain 25-man roster for us in 2008, and beside it, the same thing for 2007 [as far as I recall!]:

         2008                  2007
   Player      Salary   Player       Salary       
== ======== =========   ========= =========
C  Snyder   1,850,000   Snyder      400,000
1B Jackson    450,000   Jackson     392,000
2B Hudson   6,250,000   Hudson    3,900,000
3b Reynolds   400,000   Tracy     3,000,000
SS Drew     1,500,000   Drew      1,500,000
LF Byrnes   6,670,000   Hairston    389,000
CF Young      400,000   Young       380,000 
RF Upton      400,000   Byrnes    4,575,000

C  Montero    400,000   Montero     380,000
IF Burke      995,000   Callaspo    380,000
IF Ojeda      550,000   Barden      380,000
OF Salazar    400,000   Hammock     389,500
1B Tracy    4,000,000   Clark     1,034,000

S1 Webb     5,500,000   Webb      4,500,000
S2 Haren    4,000,000   Davis     5,500,000
S3 Johnson 10,500,000   Hernandez 7,000,000
S4 Davis    7,750,000   Gonzalez    387,500
S5 Owings     400,000   Owings      380,000

1. Pena       400,000   Valverde  2,000,000
2. Lyon     3,125,000   Lyon      1,500,000
3. Qualls   1,312,500   Pena        381,000
4. Cruz     1,937,500   Cruz      1,437,500
5. Nippert    400,000   Nippert     380,000
6. Slaten     400,000   Slaten      380,000
7. Gonzalez   400,000   Durbin      380,000
Sources: 2008 salaries per shoewizard's review, 2007 ones per

Overall, this sets the Opening Day payroll for 2008 at $60.4m, a huge increase over last year's figure of $41.3m. However, there are some significant factors to take into consideration - most obviously, the $10.6m paid to players who were on the DL, rather than the roster, at that point. The biggest chunk of that went to Randy Johnson ($9,100,546), but also included in the list were Jeff Davanon ($1,250,000) and Carlos Quentin ($381,000). Add those in, and the "real" Opening Day payroll for 2007 ends up being round about $52m.

That's still a significant increase, and more than half of that is due to rises for three-fifths of the rotation: Davis gets $2.25m, Johnson $1.4m and Webb $1m more than they did last year. On the other hand, Haren will be $3m cheaper than Hernandez, so in effect, we're only paying a total of $1.65 more for our starters. Similarly, the replacement of 2007 Valverde with 2008 Qualls [net gain: 700K] covers about half of the increase awarded to Lyon.

Among the position players, Hudson gets the largest bump, just ahead of Eric Byrnes, but Snyder wins the best percentage increase. Tracy also gets an extra million in 2008. looking at the list above makes it very clear that a way must be found to get his bat into the lineup regularly, if we are not to pay an enormous amount of money to a bench-warmer - only Byrnes and Hudson will earn more among the position players this season. However, with Jackson, Drew, Young and Upton not even eligible for arbitration, the overall costs remain manageable.

There are a couple of other factors to take into account. Most painful is the money we will be paying the Huge Manatee not to pitch for us. Even though we got to discount what the Giants paid him, that was more than $7m last season, and since he's missing all of 2008 due to Tommy John surgery, it will be the full $8.5 this one. That will, thankfully, be the end of it: we should have that much more to spend next year, perhaps on an extension for O-Dawg? On the plus side, it appears that we have largely completed our payments of $6.3m to the Mets for Shawn Green, and will be out from under that rock entirely after this season. That's estimated at only a million bucks, compared to nearly five in 2007. Last season, we were also paying Javier Vazquez to play for Chicago...but since I believe the Yankees were paying us for him too, that ends up almost a wash. Albeit one more headache-inducing than Cloverfield.

In 2007, the team also ended up paying a seven-figure sum for two entirely failed pitching experiments, in the shape of Joe Kennedy and Byung-Hyun Kim. That little exercise - the pair combined for 5.2 innings and 13 earned runs - probably cost us about one and a half million dollars, an expensive lesson on roster manipulation. There were also payments incurred for mid-season call-ups like Reynolds, Ojeda and Upton, plus other signings such as Cirillo ($510K) and Wickman ($40K). Upton and Drew will also still being paid installments of their signing bonuses in 2008, which amounts to an extra couple of million between them. Those, being minor-league deals, should likely not be included, but Max Scherzer's $1.075m - assuming an equal split of his 4-year, $4.3m deal - probably should, since he was signed direct to a major-league contract.

If Ortiz is an overweight albatross around the team's financial neck, it shrinks when placed beside Colangelo's Folly - the huge lumps of deferred salary accumulated under the previous ownership, for players both good and atrocious, that still has to be dealt with. The last report, in November, had us paying off about $29m last year, then budgeting $20 million for it this year and next, before the drain drops sharply to only $5 million, in 2010 and 2011; it's unclear what is due beyond that. The repayment of the principal is not generally felt to figure into payroll, but the interest - likely somewhere around $2-3 million - does. Including that, plus the payments for Ortiz and Green, and Scherzer's signing bonus would leave the total, "effective" salary for 2008 at around the $74m mark, only fractionally up from about $72m (including the same contract payments to former D-backs and interest elements).

Looking further ahead, the costs for 2009 look like remaining fairly stable. Johnson, O-Dawg, Cruz and Lyon will be free agents, so their salary - almost $22m in total - will become available, for signing them or their replacements. We should also have available the $8.5m for Ortiz, the balance for Green and a reduced amount of debt interest. That works out at about $32m to replace the four players above next off-season, even assuming income remains at the same level. Some of that will got to scheduled increases and arbitration (Jackson enters his first arb year), but it seems likely there will be some left over, if necessary. Especially as one of the bullpen spots will likely go to Max Scherzer, at or around league-minimum.

[Thanks to shoewizard for his help and clarifications of several key points with regard to these final tallies]