Nationals Arm Race

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Nats 2013 Salary Status – Post Span, Post non-Tenders


Werth is the highest paid Nat ... for now. photo: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images NA

Now that Denard Span has been acquired and the Nats have cut loose the expected non-tender candidates (saving about $9M in estimated arbitration salary), the next phase in the Nats off-season can commence.

A couple of larger question remains; is the team pursuing a major starter, either via free agency or in trade?  And, is the team going to commit large payroll dollars to Adam LaRoche? Perhaps that question can be answered by looking at the team’s payroll commitments and making educated guesses as to how large a 2013 payroll Mike Rizzo will be given to work with.

The Nats payroll as risen from roughly $66M in 2010, to $68M in 2011 to $92M at the beginning of last year.  $92M only ranked the team 20th in the league in payroll and we were rewarded with the best record in baseball.  Is it safe to assume that payroll will be allowed to rise again?  I think it is; Rizzo’s Span trade was clearly a “win now” move, looking to capture the team’s current shape (which is mostly locked in place for at least 3 years) and build on it towards a World Series title.  To that end, I think it is safe to say we can expect at least a rise to the $110M payroll plateau for 2013’s team.  Perhaps even higher.  (If you disagree, definitely discuss in the comments section).

Where do we stand now?  Using a combination of Cot’s pages and MLB Trade rumor’s arbitration salary estimates, here’s a guesstimate as to where the team stands, right now, in terms of 2013 payroll:

(note; this XLS is available in the Links section of this blog, as well as directly via this link.  There’s a bit more information online than I cut-n-pasted into the tables below, including salary workings for previous years).

Players currently under contract for 2013 under existing contracts: 12 players

Under Contract for 2013 (12) Current or 2013 Contract 2013 Salary
Werth, Jayson 7 yr/$126M (11-17) $16,571,000
Zimmerman, Ryan 5 yr/$45M (09-13) $14,100,000
Morse, Michael 2yr/$10.5M (12-13) $6,750,000
Suzuki, Kurt 4 years/$16.25M (2010-13), plus 2014 option $6,450,000
Gonzalez, Gio 5yr/$42M (12-16)+17,18 options $6,350,000
Span, Denard 5 years/$16.5M (2010-14), plus 2015 club option $4,750,000
Strasburg, Stephen 4 yr/$15.1M  (09-12) + 3.9M for 2013 $3,900,000
Maya, Yunesky 4 yr/$8M (10-13) $2,000,000
Harper, Bryce 5 yr/$9.9M (11-15) $2,000,000
Rendon, Anthony 4yr/$7.2M ($6M bonus) (12-16 w/ 17 opt) $1,800,000
Purke, Matthew 4yr/$4.15M (2.75M bonus) (12-16) with 2 club opts $1,037,500
Tracy, Chad 1yr/$1M (2013) $1,000,000

Total amount of payroll guaranteed here: $66,708,500

Arbitration Cases for 2013: 7 players.  Note that I don’t entirely agree with all these estimates, thinking some are high (Clippard) and some are low (Storen), but the model that estimated them is pretty good, so we’ll go with these numbers.

Arbitration Eligible Players for 2013 (7) 2013 MLBtraderumors Arbitration Salary Estimate
Clippard, Tyler $4,600,000
Zimmermann, Jordan $4,900,000
Desmond, Ian $3,200,000
Storen, Drew $1,700,000
Stammen, Craig $900,000
Detwiler, Ross $2,200,000
Bernadina, Roger $1,100,000

Estimated amount of payroll here: $18,600,000

Pre-Arbitration players with club-Assigned Salaries: 7 players.  I believe the 2013 MLB minimum salary is $490k; i’m guessing that the team will “give” a bit more salary to some of these guys, but the difference between $490k and $515k isn’t much in the grand scheme of things.

Pre Arbitration MLB players (7) Rough 2013 Salary estimate
Espinosa, Danny $525,000
Ramos, Wilson $505,000
Rodriguez, Henry $500,000
Lombardozzi, Steve $490,000
Marrero, Chris $490,000
Mattheus, Ryan $490,000
Moore, Tyler $490,000

Total amount of payroll guaranteed here: $3,490,000

Other 40-man Players pre MLB service (10): The list of guys below are all on minor league deals and (I believe) don’t collect a full MLB salary, and I don’t project any of them on the 2013 opening day roster.  They’re listed here to complete the 40-man roster members.

Other 40-man Players pre MLB service (10)
Davis, Erik 1yr Minor League deal
Garcia, Christian 1yr Minor League deal
Karns, Nathan 1yr Minor League deal
Kimball, Cole 1yr Minor League deal
Perry, Ryan 1yr Minor League deal
Leon, Sandy 1yr Minor League deal
Solano, Jhonatan 1yr Minor League deal
Rivero, Carlos 1yr Minor League deal
Brown, Corey 1yr Minor League deal
Perez, Eury 1yr Minor League deal

Total estimated 2013 payroll right now: $66,708,500 + $18,600,000 + $3,490,000 = $88,798,500.

So, going on the assumption that the team has about $110M to work with, can Mike Rizzo still acquire a 5th starter, a left-handed reliever and possibly Adam LaRoche with about $20M of free agency dollars?  I don’t think they can.  Now, if payroll were to rise to about $120M?  That’s $30M right now to acquire those three resources.  LaRoche at $15M/year, a lower-tier starter at $10-12M/year, and a lefty reliever at about $3M/year would fit perfectly.

Or, you trade Michael Morse, shed his $6.75M/year, and you could pursue a $16-$18M/year pitcher with the same $120M budget.

Or, you trade Morse for your 5th starter, assume the payroll implications are neutral, bring back LaRoche and a loogy, and you’re closer to a $110M payroll figure.

Or, you keep Morse, put him at first, let LaRoche walk and then go full-bore for Zack Greinke and use the whole of the $20M/year left right now on your FA starter.  We fill the loogy from within (re-sign Tom Gorzelanny or Michael Gonzalez?) and make do with the offense as it stands.

Which way will the team go?

Other 40-man Players pre MLB service (10)

Written by Todd Boss

December 3rd, 2012 at 2:41 pm

8 Responses to 'Nats 2013 Salary Status – Post Span, Post non-Tenders'

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  1. Looks like they brought back Duke. Amanda Comak is reporting he re-signed to a 1 year major league deal to replace Gorzelanny.


    3 Dec 12 at 3:09 pm

  2. Good move. I’m guessing it was for less than either Gorzelanny or Lannan would have earned. Still need another lefty; guessing they try to resign michael gonzalez.

    Todd Boss

    3 Dec 12 at 3:10 pm

  3. Yeah I would be expecting either Gonzalez or JP Howell. Saw where they were interested in him.

    I’m just surprised Duke decided to stay and work out of the pen instead of going to a team where he could have started. I guess he is tired of playing for bad teams.


    3 Dec 12 at 3:14 pm

  4. Maybe he read the writing on the wall from his experiences last off-season. The Nats were a complete last-chance opportunity for him. Despite all the other bad teams in the league, not one of them gave him a major league deal to start. So then you ask, how many minor league starting pitcher AAA jobs did he get offered and why did he take the Nats offer versus from a place like Kansas City or Pittsburgh?

    I’m guessing the team is promising him spot starts as needed but primarily a long man/periodic matchup guy?

    JP Howell; i like him. if he’s healthy.

    Todd Boss

    3 Dec 12 at 3:19 pm

  5. Todd – this is good, it helps me put the next several years into perspective, payroll wise. 2015 seems like the year that things get tight, making me understand Rizzo’s comments to ALR about payroll flexibility. It really is the pitching staff that makes it tight, though. In 2015, we probably have Stras, Gio and JZimm all getting $10+m, and Det at $6-7m. If they added Greinke at $22m per, that means >50% of the payroll is tied up in the starters. Unless they plan to get to $130-150m payrolls, that seems unsustainable and so Greinke seems like a non starter unless they plan to flip JZimm and/or Det in a year or two.

    What I don’t know how to assess is whether $130-150m is reasonable with the new national and local TV money.


    3 Dec 12 at 3:41 pm

  6. The RSN money is a total wild card. But, if everyone is getting $80-$100M/year then we’ll see inflated payrolls to match.

    It also tells me that this team needs to get back on the farm system building train, in order to have rising reinforcements for these guys that will naturally leave in a few year’s time.

    Todd Boss

    3 Dec 12 at 4:00 pm

  7. The other thing that occurred to me is that this is probably Clip’s last year, due to salary. Hard to see them going for $6m+ on a non closing reliever with such a growing payroll. I wouldn’t be totally shocked to see him traded this year, if they get a good offer. Alternatively, I wonder if he would bite on 3/$12m. Probably not, given the current reliever market, but he hasn’t had a big payday yet and he’d still be youngish when it ends.


    3 Dec 12 at 8:07 pm

  8. Completely agree on Clippard. I just wish he hadn’t shredded his trade value in 2012 like he did. His drop-off in numbers, his slump in September and then his blow-ups in the playoffs all weigh down where he was perceived after 2011. We could have sold him as a closer-quality reliever … I still think that either he or Storen is trade bait, to be packaged with another player in a possible deal.

    Todd Boss

    4 Dec 12 at 10:04 am

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