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Thoughts towards a 2015 Diamondbacks payroll

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What might the team look at spending next season, and where are they already committed?

$24 million next year, having a discussion on the mound.
$24 million next year, having a discussion on the mound.
Denis Poroy
"$90 million is probably a number that makes a lot of sense right now."

Thus spoke Derrick Hall, when asked about the Diamondbacks payroll for next season. It's going to be an interesting financial exercise for Dave Stewart in his first year as a GM: this will be the last season under the old TV contract, with expectations the new one will be two or three times the current, $31 million per annum rate. But the team also has to budget for the expense of the having the #1 overall draft pick, for the first time in a decade. Let;s do some back of the envelope type sums, and see what might happen.

On the books

None at all of the 121 players who became free agents this morning, were Diamondbacks. We dealt away the likes of impending free agents Joe Thatcher and Brandon McCarthy, and J.J. Putz was let go - though we are, in some ways, benefiting since their contracts are still "coming off the books" this winter.But given the drop in team payroll, and increases elsewhere, it doesn't bring much relief. The following players are already under guaranteed contracts for the 2015 season:

  • Miguel Montero: $12m
  • Aaron Hill: $12m
  • Trevor Cahill: $12m
  • Cody Ross: $9.5m
  • Bronson Arroyo: $9.5m
  • Brad Ziegler: $5m
  • Paul Goldschmidt: $3.1m
  • Oliver Perez: $2.5m
  • Josh Collmenter $1.4m
  • Daniel Hudson: $800K
  • Matt Reynolds: $600K

That's a total of $68.4 million for eleven players.

Arbitration elig8ible

These are the players under team contract. We don't know what they will earn as yet - we have to go through the whole "swapping figures" process, then likely end up negotiating to a deal. So the figures for these players are the 2014 salaries, as a guide.

  • 3rd-year
    Cliff Pennington: $3.25m
    David Hernandez: $2m
  • 2nd-year
    Mark Trumbo: $4.8m
    Matt Reynolds: $550K
  • 1st-year
    Addison Reed: $538.5K
    Wade Miley: $523.5K
    Jordan Pacheco: $502K

Baseball-Reference.com projects a total for them of $18.3 million. I'm inclined to think that may be low, but on the other hand, it would surprise me if Pennington was on the roster next year. We have younger, cheaper and arguably better options in terms of the middle infield, and I don't think $5 million or so would be a good use of resources for a late-inning defensive replacement with a career OPS+ of 84. It helps that Hernandez and Reynolds didn't pitch this year, so shouldn't be in line for more than a token rise. But all those meaningless saves Reed piled up will cost us, Miley should get a bump, and Trumbo won't be cheap. Here are my "finger in the air" predictions

  • Cliff Pennington: N/A
  • David Hernandez: $2.5m
  • Mark Trumbo: $6.5m
  • Matt Reynolds: $800K [option exercised at $600K]
  • Addison Reed: $4m
  • Wade Miley: $3.5m
  • Jordan Pacheco: $800K

I should mention the comps from last year used, though for Trumbo, I couldn't really find any obvious parallels. He won't be cheap, especially as arbitration tends to favor players strong in basic numbers like HR and BA, rather than OBP or UZR. For Reed, someone like Steve Cishek, who was a Super 2: Cishek had fewer saves over the previous two years (49 vs. 72) but a much better ERA (2.50 vs 4.20), and earned $3.8 million this season. Miley matches up against Dillon Gee (ERA+ 97 vs 96), but threw more innings, though in wasn't as good in the most recent season. Gee settled on $3.625m, so around that seems credible for Miley. That's a total of $17.3 million for five players.

Filling in the gaps

The remaining nine slots on the 25-man roster can be at or very near league minimum, so around $5 million in total. Add the three categories up, and you reach a total of $90.2 million for the D-backs payroll. That's already very close to the number put out there by Derrick Hall, presuming we aren't paying Pennington (either through trade or non-tender). As Hall points out, part of the issue is that we're picking first in each round of the draft. "As that budget has gone up, I've got to shave a little off of major league payroll. We've got a little bit to play with, but we'll have to get creative. For us to do things, probably have to move a player or two here or there."

Certainly, at the present time, there does not appear to be any significant wiggle room for the team to add a top of the rotation starting pitcher in free-agency. And I'm sure Hall is aware that "Moving a player" won't be east, since of the five listed above, who will be earning more than $5 million, one is injured, three were, to varying degrees, not very good last year (so salary eating could well be required), and there's no obvious replacement at hand for Montero behind the plate. As someone mentioned in another thread, it seems increasingly likely that the next Diamondbacks "ace" will be earning league minimum.

[Updated with the exercising of options on Reynolds and Hudson this afternoon]