Do you trade Gonzalez to get payroll flexibility? Photo unknown via WP.com
The end of the World Series starts the clock on a whole slew of off-season moves, and we’ve already seen the Nats do a few procedural moves that were predictable:
- Aaron Barrett, who I thought was a non-tender candidate since he’s Arb-eligible, was waived.
- Yusmeiro Petit had his $3M option declined, and becomes a FA.
- All 8 of our other eligible FAs declared FA: Mark Melancon, Wilson Ramos, Stephen Drew, Chris Heisey, Matt Belisle, Mark Rzepczynski, Sean Burnett and Mat Latos.
So the 40-man roster now sits at 31 players:
- SP: Scherzer, Strasburg, Roark, Ross, Gonzalez*, Lopez, Giolito, Cole
- RP: Kelley, Treinen, Glover, Solis*, Perez*, Gott, Martin, Grace*
- C: Lobaton, Severino, Kieboom
- INF: Zimmerman, Murphy, Turner, Rendon, Espinosa, Robinson, Difo
- OF: Harper, Werth, Revere, Taylor, Goodwin
Lets break down these current 31 guys and see what their payroll looks like projected for 2017 to see what kind of financial flexibility the team may have. Using the ever-awesome Cots MLB player salary site as a source here we go:
Players Already Under Contract for 2017 – 8
- Werth, Jayson: $21,571,429
- Scherzer, Max: $15,000,000
- Strasburg, Stephen: $15,000,000
- Zimmerman, Ryan: $14,000,000
- Gonzalez, Gio: $12,100,000 (Option for 2017 picked up 11/3/16)
- Murphy, Daniel: $12,000,000
- Perez, Oliver: $4,000,000
- Kelley, Shawn: $5,500,000
Subtotal: $99,171,429 <– Sum of Established Contracts for 2017
Note that I’ve not prorated any deferred money for Scherzer, Strasburg. Also, I’m not entirely sure what Werth did last year; was it to lower his 2016 salary by $10M and pay that later? I think so, so I don’t believe his 2017 salary was affected. I do not agree with the prorating that Cot’s does with the deferred dollars on Scherzer/Strasburg; I think the Lerners are treating it like payments later on so as to add financial flexibility now, so I count just the dollars owed in 2017 here. With these caveats, we come to the $99.1M figure due for these 8 players. Feel free to comment and correct me if I have this wrong.
Arbitration Eligible Players for 2017 – 6
I’m using MLB Trade rumors’ estimates instead of doing my own guesses since they’ve proven to be hyper accurate in years’ past, but will offer commentary on each figure.
- Harper, Bryce: $9,300,000 estimate
- Rendon, Anthony: $6,400,000 estimate
- Espinosa, Danny: $5,300,000 estimate
- Lobaton, Jose: $1,600,000 estimate
- Revere, Ben: $6,300,000 estimate
- Roark, Tanner: $6,100,000 estimate
Subtotal: $35,000,000 <– MLBtraderumors Guess of total arb award amounts
Now, I’m on record saying that I think the team non-tenders Revere; I cannot imagine paying $6.3M for the production we got out of him last year. If the team thinks 2016 was an aberration and he can return to his 2015 form, then $6.3M might be a bargain (reminder: he hit .319 and had a 101 OPS+ figure in Toronto in 2015). However, for the time being i’m going with Revere getting non-tendered. I also think Harper’s going to sign a 2-year deal to buy out the rest of his Arb years, so I could see something like a 2yr/$25M deal at 10 and 15. I think the Rendon figure seems high (yes he had a solid year but $6.4 more than doubles his 2016 pay). I also have a hard time believing that Roark is going to net $6.1M in his first arb season, no matter how good he was last year.
So my working guess on this number is $35M less Revere’s $6.3 and less a bit more off of the Rendon & Roark numbers: call it $27,200,000.
Pre Arbitration MLB players – 17
- Robinson, Clint $540,000
- Treinen, Blake $536,000
- Taylor, Michael $530,000
- Ross, Joe $520,000
- Gott, Trevor $518,000
- Turner, Trea $507,500
- Solis, Sammy $507,500
- Glover, Koda $507,500
- Severino, Pedro $507,500
- Difo, Wilmer $507,500
- Cole, A.J. $507,500
- Goodwin, Brian $507,500
- Grace, Matt
- Martin, Rafael
- Kieboom, Spencer
- Giolito, Lucas
- Lopez, Reynaldo
The rest of the 40-man roster are pre-arbitration/team-assigned salaries. The current league minimum salary is $507,500; that might change, that might go up with the new CBA. For the time being, those players above who are ABOVE that figure are those who have played at the MLB level and have earned a nominal raise. These are guesses on these nominal salary increases, and then the rest of the guys are listed assuming they all make next year’s 25-man roster. Assuming no acquisitions, 12 of these pre-arb guys will be on the 25-man roster so that’s roughly $6M.
Payments for former players in 2017
Petit, Yusmeiro: $500,000 buyout of 2017 contract.
Summary: $99,171,429 + $27,200,000 + $6,196,500 + $500,000 = $133,067,929 current payroll Estimate for your 2017 Nationals.
That figure represents about a $12M delta from last year’s working payroll figure of $145,178,886 (cot’s figure), but is about $5.7M higher than my “present day dollar only” figure for last year’s squad.
So, I’m not sure if the team has $12M to “spare” or will be looking to cut costs. Either way they’re nearly $30M below the 2015 payroll figure of $162M (Cots).
So here’s what i’d like to see happen:
- Non-tender Revere ($6.3M), Trade Gio ($12M) and Espinosa ($5.3M). Net $17.3M (we already counted on Revere’s 6.3)
- I figure we’ll receive back at least $10M of MLB salary for players received from Gio and Espinosa. So that leaves about $7M additional savings
- Add that to the $12M figure and that’s about $20M to work with.
- Spread that $20M around as follows:
- Josh Reddick: $10M a year for 3 years; lefty, RF capable, relatively cheap when compared to the marquee OF on the market.
- Greg Holland: $7M/year guess; former closer, formerly had ridiculous stuff, may have it back, could be 8th or 9th inning guy with existing options
- Resign Stephen Drew, Matt Belisle and Chris Heisey to a combined $10M.
That makes your 25-man projected roster look like this:
- SP: Scherzer, Strasburg, Roark, Ross, Lopez
- RP: Kelley, Holland, Treinen, Belisle, Solis*, Perez*, Cole (longman)
- C: Lobaton, Severino
- INF: Zimmerman, Murphy, Turner, Rendon, Robinson, Drew,
- OF: Harper, Werth, Reddick, Taylor, Heisey
With the following in AAA
- SP: Giolito
- RP: Glover, Gott, Martin, Grace*
- C: Kieboom
- INF: Difo
- OF: Goodwin
That’s not too bad. It also doesn’t account for any players received from trading Gonzalez and Espinosa; we could get back a starting catcher, pushing Severino to AAA, or we could get a utility infielder, obviating the need for Drew or Heisey.
what do you guys think?