There are two parts to this article. A brief summary of the key offseason dates as they relate to off season transactions is followed by breakdown of where the team currently sits with their 40 man roster and 2020 payroll. The reason for providing payroll info now is it helps provide context for potential team moves and shows what kind of flexibility and direction they may take.
All Eligible players became free agents. Their existing teams had 5 days exclusive negotiating rights
- Deadline to pick up or decline options,
- Free Agency begins. Players may negotiate with any team.
- Qualifying offers to be extended. (17.8 M this year)
Note: Option decisions on Wilmer Flores and TJ McFarland have already been rendered and there are no players on the DBacks that will receive a qualifying offer this year.
General Manager’s Meeting, Scottsdale Arizona
Deadline for players to accept or reject qualifying offers. Remember any player rejected their Q.O. will have draft pick compensation tied to them for any team that signs them.
Owners Meeting, Arlington Texas
Last day for teams to designate who will be added to the 40 man roster and therefore protected from the rule 5 draft. The team has several spots open on the 40 man and several players that need to be protected. The three most likely candidates are Infielder Andy Young, Starting Pitchers Taylor Widener, and Riley Smith. Additional candidates according to Zach Buchanan are Right handers Chester Pimental, Mack Lemieux, and infielder Wyatt Mathisen.
Non Tender deadline. This is the latest date we would see decisions on whether or not to tender contracts to players such as Jake Lamb, Caleb Joseph, Silvino Bracho, or perhaps even Steven Souza or Taijuan Walker. The latter two would seem unlikely to be non tendered based on team comments, but you never know.
Winter Meetings in San Diego. In years gone by the winter meetings were typically a big time for deals and free agent signings, but in recent years they have been less eventful.
Rule 5 Draft. Eligible Players left unprotected on team’s 40 man roster can be selected by other teams, but they must remain on that team’s active big league roster all season or be returned to eligible team.
Deadline for teams and players to submit salary figures for arbitration eligible players
Arbitration hearings take place. Teams and players can negotiate prior to the hearing, although “File and Trial” is ever more common.
February 10-12: Pitchers and Catchers begin to report. YAY!
Diamondbacks Payroll Tracker
- There are currently 35 players on the 40 man roster, with 5 open spots
- The below table shows those 35 players plus other commitments such as Yasmany Tomas, Payments to Houston for Zack Greinke, and buyout payments for Wilmer Flores and TJ McFarland. (I wasn’t sure whether or not to assign those buyout payments to 2020 or not)
- The DBacks must pay the Astros 10.33 M on 7/1/2020 and again on 7/1/2021
- Salary Estimates from MLB Trade Rumors for arbitration eligible player are shown in Bold Italics
- Players likely to earn the MLB minimum for the entirety of 2020 are shown with a rounded up salary of 600,000 (0.60 in the chart)
- Players who will possibly be called upon to provide depth during the season are showing with rounded off half season prorated MLB minimum of 300,000 (0.30 in the chart)
- 5 open spots on the 40 man are currently assigned as “partial major leaguers” then.
- The Payroll figures here are not the same thing as Luxury Tax calculations which include different calculations for things like deferred salary, player benefits, etc. This is just what they actually have to pay in 2020.
In 2018 the Diamondbacks had an opening day payroll of approximately 131 Million, and ended the season around 140 million due to additions over the season. However in 2019 the opening day payroll was cut to 123 Million, and then they traded Zack Greinke to the Astros.
So the big question is what is the 2020 payroll budget ? We just don’t know and so far the team has been tight lipped about it. I touch on that more below, but for this exercise, if we just take the mid way point between 2018-2019 opening day Payroll we’d arrive at 127 M. With 108.4 M currently estimated above, that means the team has roughly 19M to use towards roster additions and improvements for 2020.
However should they choose to non tender all three of Jake Lamb, Caleb Joseph, and Silvino Bracho they would save approximately 7M and have 26M to play with for 2020.
It’s important to note that 2021 guaranteed commitments are so low. Of course there will be a lot of players to replace, as there are so many players that are Arb 3 players in 2020 who will be free agents heading into 2021. How many of those slots can be filled capably by internal pre arb player depth by 2021 is questionable.
Mike Hazen tends to play his cards fairly close to his chest. However after watching and listening to him for a long time now, I don’t get the sense that he throws up too many smoke screens either. He just doesn’t say explicitly what he plans to do. He has hinted that he is likely to try to spread the savings from the Greinke trade around, and not blow it all in one place. And that remains the most likely path he will pursue.
But you never know. There is some potential for the team to make a splash on a bigger name free agent than we might suspect. Especially if they can backload the deal. With 2021 and beyond guaranteed commitments so low, they seemingly have the room to do that. But I caution against getting too carried away with fantasies of the DBacks signing Gerritt Cole. That’s not going to happen.
Circling back to the payroll budget Mike Hazen will have to work with, we’ll just have to wait and see what are the intentions of ownership. There are stadium debt obligations coming or already due. There are deferred maintenance issues that are going to catch up to the organization sooner or later. And of course the overriding decisions still to be made over how long they will stay in Chase Field and where they will go if they leave. How all of that impacts payroll budget is anybody’s guess. But it doesn’t seem to add up to a signifcant expansion of payroll budget any time soon.