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Diamondbacks 2022 Payroll: First Pass

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Expect more of the same financial restrictions

Syndication: USA TODAY Michael Chow via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Below is my first pass at 2022 Payroll. This is snapshot in time showing where things stand presently. I’ll start with the lead: I believe that as things stand right now, Mike Hazen has between $10M to $20M to spend on free agent signings, (or absorb in trade). Below will show you how I got there.

There is a major caveat to consider first however: The current CBA expires in December, and there will likely be a multitude of changes coming in the new CBA, assuming the two sides actually reach a deal and we have a season in 2022. My personal opinion is they will come to a deal, but I don’t think it gets done before the current deal expires. I think the two sides drag it out with protracted ugly negotiations, and finally pull it out at the last minute in early January, a month or so before Spring Training is scheduled to start, so as not to totally sabotage team’s efforts to figure out what to do with their rosters and payroll in time for the 2022 season. But that aside, and despite the uncertainty, we press on.

I’m presenting this slightly differently from what I’ve done in the past, just to see which way people prefer to view the data. I’m using both Table format and Image format to present this information. The tables generally don’t show well on a mobile device I gather, but images come out too small sometimes. I’m curious to hear from users which way they prefer to see this data.

See below the tables for explanations:

2022 Payroll Snapshot as of Aug 3, 2021

Player Status Amount ($M) Remarks
Player Status Amount ($M) Remarks
Madison Bumgarner Contract 23.00 5M deferred to Nov 2026
Nick Ahmed Contract 8.25 Bal. 500K bonus, Incl. 250K if 150 days on roster
Ketel Marte Contract 8.00
David Peralta Contract 8.00 Incl. 500k if 150 days on roster
Merrill Kelly Contract 5.25 Assuming Option exercised
Kole Calhoun FA 2.00 Option Buyout cost
Tyler Clippard FAA 0.50 Option Buyout Cost
Luke Weaver Arb 2 2.30
Carson Kelly Arn 2 (of 4) 2.80
Caleb Smith Arb 2 2.40
Noe Ramirez Arb 3 of 4 1.62
Christian Walker Arb 1 1.62
Zac Gallen Pre Arb 3 0.70
Taylor Clarke Pre Arb 3 0.70
Taylor Widener Pre Arb 3 0.70
Josh Rojas Pre Arb 2 0.70
Pavin Smith Pre Arb 2 0.67
JoshVanMeter Pre Arb 3 0.67
Daulton Varsho Pre Arb 3 0.67
Pre ARB Roster Spots 7 x .65 4.55
Injury Replacements 6 x .65 3.90
Total 79.00
Or
89.00 If Calhoun/Clippard options exercised

Players Under Contract: $52.5M

Madison Bumgarner will have $5m of his salary deferred to November 2026, but the team still needs to fund that deferral and it goes against the payroll budget the GM has to work with. This is different from the CBT or Competitive Balance Tax calculations, which use the Average Annual of a multi year contract, regardless of contract structure year by year and deferrals.

Nick Ahmed and David Peralta both have “days on roster” clauses in their contract and I’m adding those in, even though they haven’t yet been fully earned. The balance $500K of Nick’s signing bonus is also paid in 2022

Ketel Marte is showing as $8.4M on other sites because the signing bonus he received is pro rated over the life of the deal on paper , per CBT rules. However the full bonus amount has actually already been paid. They will only pay him $8M in in 2022, and that’s what will go against the budget the GM has to use.

Merrill Kelly is probably misclassified in my table, as technically the team simply holds an option for his 2022 season. But there is ZERO doubt that option gets exercised, so I’m treating it like he’s already under contract for 2022.

Players With Options: $2.5M if declined, or $10M if both exercised

Other than Kelly, the only other two with options are Kole Calhoun and Tyler Clippard. Kole has a $9M option or $2m Buyout, and Clippard has a mutual option for $3.5M or $500K buyout. (If Clip exercises his part and team declines then they owe the 500K)

Arbitration Eligible Players: $10.74M

These are very rough estimates, and I’ll likely be off by $500K in either direction on several of them. But the total amount usually ends up very close to actual. YMMV.

Pre Arbitration Eligible Players: $13.26M

This is spread out into 3 sections. You should first note that I am showing an increase of the base minimum salary to $650K for 2022. That’s up from about $589K in 2021. However we have no idea how much minimum salary will actually go up in 2022 when the new CBA is calculated.

A.) There is a group of 7 players, listed by name that are at this point likely to be on the opening day roster. They all already have some service time and will make above the minimum by varying amounts. Again, YMMV, but this is a reasonable guess.

B.) 7 Roster Spots at $650K: This is the minimum amount the team would then need to finish filling out a 26 man roster as the previous groups only account for 19 roster spots. Of course some of those spots may ultimately go to a veterans on a guaranteed contract instead of a pre arb player. We’ll deal with that in the summary below

C.) Injury Replacements: The team must always budget for injuries and the need to call players up from the minors and pay them major league minimum, for at least a pro rated portion of the season. In the past I typically used anywhere from $2M- $3M for this. But the team has already racked up 1,020 days of IL so far. Prorating that out to approximately 1500 days and dividing by 180 you get about 8 “seasons” worth of roster days . However I am being wildly optimistic and cutting that to 6 in 2022. That comes out to just shy of $4M, still higher than previous years estimates, but lower than 2021 injury fiasco.

FUTURE OUTLOOK

The team started off 2021 with approximately $95M in opening day payroll. (They saved about $5M with July trades) That was almost $30M less than 2020 projected opening day payroll before the Pandemic struck.

Average paid attendance in 2021 so far has been 13,000 per game. But we’ve seen days as late as July 6th and July 8th where Paid attendance was only around 7,000. From this we can infer the season ticket base is no higher than 6K or 7K, and it would seem reasonable to speculate that’s only going to drop further next year, despite hopes we’ll be well past the worst of the Delta Variant part of the Pandemic by next spring. I personally don’t expect the team to average more than 15K per game in 2022, continuing to depress revenue and therefore salary.

Based on this, I’m guessing we’ll see a payroll budget in 2022 no higher than $100M for 2022. That means depending on what Mike Hazen decides to do on the options for Calhoun and Clippard, he’ll have anywhere from a low of $10M to a maximum of $20M to work with.

Of course there is a lot that can change. First and foremost, ownership could surprise us and take payroll up higher than $100M. That would be nice. As we all know, there are teams with lower payroll than the Diamondbacks that are simply better, and not just in 2021. But the more money Hazen has to work with, the more margin for error and greater depth. Both these statements are true.

They could perhaps engineer off season trades for veterans like David Peralta or Nick Ahmed to free up cash. But would those be cost cutting moves, or reallocation of resources into hopefully better players brought in via free agency or trades ? Can they get better players than Peralta and Ahmed for $16M ? For the third and final time this article, YMMV.

The Diamondbacks won’t be spending their way out of last place any time soon. That’s going to have to come from player development and savvy trades and signings working out better than expected. Hopefully ownership is building a war chest to spend up and spend big by 2024 when the roster is chock full of players under 27 playing above replacement level.