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2012 Diamondbacks Roster and Payroll Thoughts

This is something which Dan looked at, from a different angle, in July. Since then, draft picks have been signed, second-basemen traded, and the Diamondbacks have surged into first-place. I also wanted to look at things more from a financial perspective, and see how the team's payroll for 2012 is looking. What holes might we need to fill? How much money might we have to spend? Of course, we've seen how quickly things can change, in just a few weeks. A month ago, you'd have found hardly anyone here interested in re-signing Sean Burroughs, but now... Warming gently, as hotclaws might say.

So, what might the 2012 Diamondbacks look like?

Starting Position Players

  • C Miguel Montero - 3rd year arbitration
  • 1B Paul Goldschmidt - minimum
  • 2B ???
  • SS Stephen Drew - $7.75m
  • 3B Ryan Roberts - 1st year arbitration ["Super Two"]
  • LF Gerardo Parra - minimum [currently misses Super Two status by one day!]
  • CF Chris Young - $7m
  • RF Justin Upton - $6.75m

Second-base is the only question-mark here. We have team options for 2012 and 2013 on Aaron Hill, but at $8 million apiece, they aren't cheap. He's been decent enough since coming over, but the list of potential free-agents doesn't contain an enormous amount to get excited about. Dan looked at the possibilities a month ago, and you could probably just search and replace "Kelly Johnson" with "Aaron Hill," and 90% of it wouldn't need significant further tweaking. Dealing with this position could conceivably be the thorniest problem Kevin Towers has to handle this winter, as it's the only position spot without an obvious 2012 incumbent.

Bench Position Players

  • C Henry Blanco - $1.15m (mutual option)
  • IF Geoff Blum - $1.35m
  • OF Collin Cowgill - minimum
  • OF/IF Willie Bloomquist - $1.1m (mutual option)
  • IF Sean Burroughs - 3rd year arbitration

Blum is signed for 2012, Cowgill might morph into A.J. Pollock or some other prospect, and I don't think anyone would mind Blanco returning. Bloomquist and Burroughs are perhaps less certain, but both seem to be "made men" in the current hierarchy, Towers sticking with them when performance might not quite deserve it. That said, Burroughs had a solid August, Bloomquist's flexibility is helpful, and I wouldn't have too many problems with them being the 24th and 25th men on the roster.


  • Ian Kennedy - minimum
  • Daniel Hudson - minimum
  • Josh Collmenter - minimum
  • Trevor Bauer - minimum
  • Jarrod Parker - minimum

Yep. You read that correctly. It's quite conceivable that the entire Diamondbacks rotation next year, could be minimum-wage. You can even swap out some of the parts. Wade Miley or Tyler Skaggs might be preferred over Bauer or Parker, depending on how things progress. However, in terms of payroll, it wouldn't make any difference. The team does have Joe Saunders under control for 2012, which is his final arbitration year. He settled for $5.5 million this season, so is probably looking at $7.5-8 million next year. Whether he's worth that depends on a) your favored metric(1.8 bWAR to date, but only 1.0 fWAR), and b) whether you think Saunders can replicate it.

A sign and trade might be a possible solution - if he maintains a sub-4.00 ERA , there would still be a market for him, if we do not need him here in Arizona. Or the team may want to have him in the rotation as a 'veteran presence', providing a bit more of a known factor than five starting pitchers where, otherwise, Kennedy could be the only one with more than forty starts in the majors. As we've seen this year, depth in a pitching rotation is more of a necessity than a luxury.


  • J.J. Putz - $4.5m
  • David Hernandez - minimum
  • Joe Paterson - minimum
  • Bryan Shaw - minimum
  • Brad Ziegler - 2nd year arbitration
  • Micah Owings - 2nd year arbitration
  • ???

The front of the bullpen appears largely set, with Putz's contract including a team option for 2012, which it would be insane to decline. Hernandez - potentially the 2013 closer - Paterson and Shaw are not due a significant increase, and I can see the team holding on to both Ziegler and Owings. The final bullpen spot is currently owned by Zach Duke, who has a $5.5 million option team option with a $750 buyout. Obviously, if he's not good enough to be in the 2011 rotation, he's almost certainly not going to be good enough to be in the 2012 version, and he is not worth five million bucks as a middle reliever. So we'll file him in this category:


  • Zach Duke - $750K buy out

What does this mean for payroll?

If we add the above up, we have 23 players under control, and need a starting second-baseman and a bullpen arm. If we assume $450K for the minimum salary players, we have:
   7 players with solid contracts, total $29.6 million
   11 players at league minimum, total $4.95 million
   5 players in arbitration - one first-year, two second-year and two third-year.
Cost for this last group are, of course,  harder to estimate. Montero will be the most expensive, and has had a very good year, so maybe $5.5 million. Ziegler is earning $1.25 million, so figure a bump to $1.75 million. For Ryan Roberts, a good comparison might be Ian Stewart of the Rockies, a Super Two 3B last year; he settled for $2.23 million; RyRo is a little better, so call it $2.5m for him.  Owings and Burroughs were both on minor-league contracts this year, so maybe $750K for each? That's a definite guess. Still, it's a total of $11.25 million there.

In total, that's $45.8 million, with two spots needing to be filled on the roster. This does assume we don't opt for Hill and Saunders, but for the sake of completeness, let's say we retain both players, with Collmenter moving to the 'pen to occupy the last relief spot. That would be about another $15.5 million for the pair, taking the total bill for the complete 2012 Diamondbacks roster to $61.3 million. This compares to the 2011 total of $53.6 million, with the re-signing of Saunders basically the difference between the two sums. A little higher, but seems eminently fundable - and, as noted, it only reaches this level if we keep both Hill and Saunders.

It's certainly significantly below the 2008 and 2009 figures which were in the high sixties and low seventies respectively. Income to date is likely down a little this year, with attendance on pace to be about 16,000 below the 2010 number, despite a welter of promotions and special deals. However, a post-season run, especially if it involved multiple games at Chase Field [only one is currently guaranteed], would certainly pump additional funds in to the team coffers. It would likely also boost attendance in 2012 - the season after our last playoff appearance, attendance improved by more than 180,000.

If the above is all "tl;dr", then here's the Cliff Notes version. Current commitments by the team seem easily manageable for 2012. While some of the established players will start to get bigger pay-days, e.g. Upton, Young, Montero, this will largely be countered by the influx of young, cost-controlled arms. Outside of second-base - and even there, we have an option - it seems the team will not need to go outside to fill too many holes, with the bulk of our talent under control for at least another season.