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2019 Arizona Diamondbacks Payroll: It’s not too soon to look

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Looking at challenges Mike Hazen must ponder as he starts to shape 2019 Roster

MLB: Spring Training-Media Day Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Diamondbacks face some fairly large challenges this coming off season. They have a large number of players currently on the roster who will be free agents at the end of the year. Their guaranteed and likely arbitration commitments are substantial and may not allow them a lot of flexibility this coming off season.

There are several resources drawn upon for this article, including

Roster Resource

Baseball Reference

Cots Contracts

They are all good resources, but they all have a little bit different information and format and it can be confusing. What I will do here is reconcile the information at those sites and try to present a clearer picture by walking you through it step by step. You are going to want to read through each part to fully understand the summary. This is not actually a projection for the final roster and payroll for 2019. Rather this is a starting point for understanding the context and basis for future moves that the organization may make. Consider this a reference tool that you can refer back to once the off season begins.

PART 1: Opening Day 2018 131.5 M, Projected Year End 140M

Opening day Payroll for 2018 was approx 131.5 Mil. As can be seen here, this was easily the highest payroll in franchise history. When that page lists the 40 man final rank 2018 payroll, and the pro rated salaries for mid season additions are added in, I estimate the final number to be approximately 140M. That will probably end up ranking around 15-19 in MLB. In the Ken Kendrick era, (since 2005) the team average rank has been 22nd.

We don’t have access to the business plan for 2019 and beyond of course. Last year the organization played possum with us a bit, as Derek Hall stated publicly several times that payroll would be “around last year”, and any increase would certainly be less than 10M. Then the team blew by that for 2018. So who knows what they will do in 2019. However to maintain a relative ranking better than 20, the team would presumably need to increase payroll again in 2019. Just keeping it the same will mean backsliding in the MLB payroll ranks.

PART 2: 2019 Guaranteed Contracts: 78 M

This is pretty straight forward. The only wrinkle is that the team actually has a 14.5 M team option for Paul Gold Schmidt with a 2M buyout. Going out on the thickest limb I can imagine, the DBacks will be picking up that option. So I present it as such.

Of course Yasmany Tomas is not on the 40 man roster, and it remains to be seen if he is added for 2019, or if they just accept the sunk cost and let him go for nothing. The only thing that is certain is the Diamondbacks will be paying that money, and for all practical purposes, when the payroll budget is finalized for 2019, Tomas’ money will be part of that.

PART 3: Arbitration Eligible players. 50 M

For a brief overview of the Arbitration Process, read here, or just Google “MLB Arbitration Process” and you will find plenty of reference articles. In the 2019 column I give my own arbitration estimates. For the top 8 players listed, (Walker thru Peralta) figure I am within 10% plus or minus. For the players below Peralta, figure I am within 5% plus or minus. Overall the amount should be in the range of 45-55 M. HOWEVER there are two possible “Non Tender” candidates on this list, Shelby Miller and Chris Owings. Rather than offering a contract or going through the arbitration process, the team may elect to simply not tender a contract to these two players saving roughly 9M. But for now, they are on this list.

PART 4: Pre Arbitration Eligible Players

These players are players that are not yet eligible for arbitration and will be paid roughly between league minimum (555,000) and 600,000. It may not end up being these players, but figure that at least 5 or 6 roster spots will be taken up by Pre Arb players in 2019. So the $ estimates are pretty much going to be correct. The “Placeholders” is to account for the minor league depth players that come up and down during the season. They get prorated Major League Salary while in the majors, but not when they are in the minors, unless they have signed a major league contract.

ADDING UP GUARANTEED , ARBITRATION AND PRE ARB, THE TOTAL PROJECTED COMMITMENTS BEFORE ADDRESSING FREE AGENTS IS 133 M

PART 5: Free Agents and Qualifying Offers

The table below shows players that are free agents at the end of this season. I purposely put them down here at the bottom because I felt it was important to have the full picture of what the team is committed to before even considering resigning one of their free agents. I don’t bother trying to figure out total years and average annual these players will end up getting. I just put in a simple estimate for how much they will make in 2019. I could be high or low, but I doubt I am off by more than 10-15% on any of these. We’ll see of course. Markets usually surprise us.

It is also important to understand the “Qualifying Offer”. Read here for a full explanation. It’s complicated, but the gist of it is the DBacks can offer any of these players a 1 year contract for approximately 18 M in 2019. The player can choose to accept, and forgo free agency for another year. Or the player can reject and test the free agent waters. If the player is sign by another team, the DBacks will receive draft pick compensation. Exactly what pick depends on a lot of factors. Follow that link for full explanation, however

Any team that signs a player who has rejected a qualifying offer is subject to the loss of one or more Draft picks. While a team’s highest first-round pick is exempt from forfeiture, any additional first-round picks are eligible. Three tiers of Draft pick forfeiture -- which are based on the financial status of the signing team -- are in place to serve as a penalty for signing a player who rejected a qualifying offer

The expectation has been that the DBacks will make a QO to both Corbin and Pollock and look to get draft pick compensation. There is no doubt whatsover that Corbin would reject a QO. It is pretty unlikely that Pollock would either. Despite his injury history, he is almost certain to get a multi year deal that would result in more guaranteed money, (although probably not as high an avg annual as the 18M QO amount for 2019)

SUMMARY:

With a Starting point of 133M commitments for 2019, it is extremely unlikely that the D-backs will be able to retain either Corbin or Pollock. Even retaining Escobar or Buchholz would present challenges.

The team will probably be looking to create some payroll flexibility. That is likely to start with the non tendering of Shelby Miller and Chris Owings, which would create about 9M in space, bringing the commitments down to 124M. This would allow them to possibly retain Descalso, Jay, and Mathis, three players the organization obviously really likes.

Not knowing the 2019 and beyond budget plan, it’s impossible to project what exactly the team will do. However it will take a sizable increase in 2019 opening day payroll to be able to retain any of the higher priced free agents.

And the issue of a Paul Goldschmidt extension is not even breached in any of the above. Any Goldy extension is obviously going to be north of 20M average annual. If they are goin to extend Goldy beyond 2019, then they are either going to have to take payroll well over 150M, or create payroll space by trading Zack Greinke .

These are the constraints faced by Mike Hazen as he heads into the 2019 off season. I hope this article was useful in helping to understand the full picture and context of these challenges. Please feel free to link this when getting into Twitter and Facebook discussions about why the team didn’t resign Corbin or extend Goldy.

Below is the full table all in one place for reference

2019 Payroll

Name Age 2018 $ 2019 Status 2019 $ 2020 Status 2021 Status
Name Age 2018 $ 2019 Status 2019 $ 2020 Status 2021 Status
Zack Greinke 35 34.00 Signed 34.50 35 35
Yasmany Tomas 28 13.50 Signed 15.50 17 FA
Paul Goldschmidt 31 11.10 Signed 14.50 FA
Alex Avila 32 4.00 Signed 4.25 FA
Jarrod Dyson 34 3.75 Signed 3.75 FA
Yoshihisa Hirano 35 3.00 Signed 3.00 FA
Ketel Marte 25 1.40 Signed 2.40 4.4 6.4
Taijuan Walker 26 4.83 Arb 3 Est 5.50 Arb 4 FA
Shelby Miller 28 4.90 Arb 3 Est 4.90 FA
Chris Owings 27 3.40 Arb 3 Est 4.10 FA
Brad Boxberger 31 1.85 Arb 3 Est 3.00 FA
Robbie Ray 27 3.95 Arb 2 Est 5.50 Arb 3 FA
Jake Lamb 28 4.28 Arb 2 Est 5.50 Arb 3 FA
Steven Souza Jr. 30 3.55 Arb 2 Est 5.00 Arb 3 FA
David Peralta 31 3.30 Arb 2 Est 5.50 Arb 3 FA
Nick Ahmed 29 1.27 Arb 2 Est 3.00 Arb 3 FA
Andrew Chafin 29 1.20 Arb 2 Est 2.50 Arb 3 FA
T.J. McFarland 30 0.85 Arb 2 Est 2.00 Arb 3 FA
Archie Bradley 26 0.58 Arb 1 Est 1.50 Arb 2 Arb 3
John Ryan Murphy 28 0.56 Arb 1 Est 1.00 Arb 2 Arb 3
Matt Andriese 29 0.56 Arb 1 Est 1.00 Arb 2 Arb 3
Zack Godley 29 0.58 Pre Arb Est 0.62 Arb 1 Arb 2
Silvino Bracho 26 Pre Arb Est 0.60 Arb 1 Arb 2
Socrates Brito 26 Pre Arb Est 0.60 Arb 1 Arb 2
Patrick Kivlehan 29 Pre Arb Est 0.60 Arb 1 Arb 2
Jimmie Sherfy 27 Pre Arb Est 0.58 Pre-Arb Arb 1
Placeholders Pre Arb Est 2.00
TOTAL 132.90