One of the tasks which will be necessary this winter, is figuring out which of the arbitration-eligible players are retained, and which are non-tendered. For the first three years of major-league service time, a team can basically pay a player league minimum, a little over half a million dollars, without negotiation. But for players with between three and six years service time (as well as a special category called “Super Twos” which won’t concern Arizona this year), salary must be negotiated between a player and their team. If no agreement is reached, both sides make their case to a three-man panel, who will set the player’s wage for the year.
However, a team does not have to retain a player’s services. They can “non-tender” a player, which effectively makes him a free agent, thereby saving the cost of his salary. It’s a decision the Diamondbacks will likely have to make, because they have fourteen players eligible for arbitration this winter, who will all likely receive significant increases in pay as a result. That’s more than any other National League team, and more than any AL team save the Red Sox (15) as well. With increases also due to players under contract, such as Yasmany Tomas and Paul Goldschmidt, it’s unlikely the team will be able to retain all fourteen players.
We will be looking in more detail at the case for each individual player between now and the end of November. That’s when teams have to decide who stays and who goes. But I figured an interesting exercise would be to see who readers here think should be retained. Yesterday, MLB Trade Rumors posted their list of projected arbitration salaries. While there aren’t guaranteed, they have been pretty accurate in the past. Here’s the list, in decreasing order of service time, of the players currently on our roster who are eligible for arbitration this winter.
- Patrick Corbin (5.105) – $8.3MM
- Randall Delgado (5.100) – $2.5MM
- A.J. Pollock (5.052) – $8.5MM
- Shelby Miller (4.166) – $4.9MM
- J.J. Hoover (4.153) – $1.6MM
- Chris Owings (4.027) – $3.8MM
- Chris Herrmann (4.001) – $1.4MM
- T.J. McFarland (3.165) – $1.0MM
- Taijuan Walker (3.142) – $5.0MM
- David Peralta (3.120) – $3.8MM
- Nick Ahmed (3.054) – $1.1MM
- Jake Lamb (3.053) – $4.7MM
- Andrew Chafin (3.020) – $1.2MM
- Robbie Ray (3.007) – $4.2MM
Bear in mind that the team has the following contract obligations already on the books: Zack Greinke ($34m); Yasmany Tomas ($13.5m); Paul Goldschmidt ($11.1m); and Jeff Mathis ($2m). That’s $60.6 million there. The fourteen players listed above are estimated to get another $52 million. We could fill out the roster with pre-arbitration players, for about $4 million more, and be done, with a payroll around $117 million. Is that the way we want to go? That would mean not re-signing any free agents, and we have a number of those leaving too - most obviously, J.D. Martinez and Fernando Rodney, but we’ll get into those as well, over the coming weeks.
Part of the tricky part is, we do not know what the team’s payroll budget will be in 2018. It would be nice to think there will be a boost as a result of the TV deal, and also the D-backs’ performance: not just their share of four post-season games, but also likely increased season ticket sales through greater fan interest. But we have been waiting for payroll to increase ever since the contract with Fox Sports Arizona was signed, and it doesn’t seem to have happened very much, to this point. So let’s treat this as an exercise. Using your best judgment as to the 2018 payroll, which of these 14 players would you retain?
Here’s the form to submit your answers. We’ll visit the responses next week. I’m also curious as to whether you think the salary estimates above, for the various players, are too high, too low or about right. That would be what the comments section is for...