In the last week, a half-gazillion contracts have been signed up against the arbitration filing deadline. For the Reds, Homer Bailey ($2.425MM), Bill Bray (1.418MM), and Paul Janish (0.850MM) have signed one-year deals, leaving only Masset and Arredondo to file. (MLBTR’s Arb Tracker is especially useful, here) Now, some teams are “file and trial” as MLBTR describes it, which means that they won’t negotiate after filing numbers, but the Reds are not. Specifically, as I’ve mentioned ad nauseum, Walt Jocketty has almost never actually gone to an arbitration hearing. Since we specifically heard that Arredondo has been working on a 2 year deal, and both the team’s AND Arredondo’s filing numbers were below MLBTR’s projected number, I strongly suspect we’ll hear about a 2 year deal in the $2 million range in the next week or so. I’m guessing Masset will also sign a contract, although he and the Reds are a little farther apart ($2.1MM vs. $2.9MM).
Using a loose estimation of who’s going to be on the opening day roster, and 2012 major league minimum of $480,000 for anyone not under contract, the 2012 Opening Day Payroll (including bonuses payable this year) looks like this, in my estimation.
Most data from Cots Contracts at http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/
This is assuming (perhaps wishful thinking) that Brackman and Chapman are not on the opening day roster, meaning that Chapman and Brackman’s salary would still have to be paid out on top of what’s owed to the major league roster. If they do end up the roster in favor of players who aren’t under contract, the payroll could shrink a bit. It may also be a bit low, as players in their second or third year of service do tend to make a teensy bit more than major league minimum.
Now noticeably, this is already a bit above last year’s opening payroll (~$80million). But the payrolls go up – the payroll in 2009 was only ~$73 million, and as it’s almost doubled since 2000. We’ve got to assume that Walt’s got some payroll increase to work with, else we probably wouldn’t be welcoming Mssrs Madson and Ludwick to the Cincinnati. But the question is how much? The team is looking pretty complete, but apparently there is one thing we’re missing.
The name on everyone’s lips right now is Ryan Theriot. He’s been linked to the Reds earlier, and Walt has recently expressed his goal of signing a veteran shortstop. Now, I’m not a big fan of this idea, but I wanted to take a look at the possible costs anyway, so I made a chart of the free agent SSs that have signed major league deals this season, you know, the ones who weren’t Jimmy Rollins or Jose Reyes.
Of course, WAR isn’t the best stat in the world, but for these purposes, I’m going to pretend that it is. The good news, is, of course, that Ryan Theriot wasn’t particularly good either hitting or fielding last year. The bad news is that Ryan Theriot wasn’t particularly good at hitting or fielding last year. Also, neither was Alex Gonzalez, and the Brewers gave him $4.25 million. You could probably make an argument for all of these guys, other than Betancourt and Wilson, being more valuable than Theriot. Some of those arguments would be ridiculous, but you could make them. At this point, I am loathe to make a prediction, but at this point, the pool of acceptable veteran shortstops is dwindling (we’re talking, Renteria, Tejada, Vizquel left essentially) and it seems the Braves and the Rays are still in the market as well.
I am pretty confident that we’ll sign him, and considering where we are right now, I’m not totally sure it matters how much he costs (within a reasonably foreseeable range, at least). He’s definitely the last piece we’d be picking up. Next year’s team is either going to be what we’ve got now, or what we’ve got now plus Ryan Theriot. It’s Bob’s money at this stage. I mean, maybe there’s a chance that we could pick up something at the deadline that’s going to cost more in salary, but that’s honestly not something I’m concerned about at this point.