The Rays' 2010 Payroll: Where do we stand right now?

With the off-season hot stove already warming up, the question looming in the forefront of most fans' minds is, "How active is my team going to be this off-season?"  We've already started discussing potential bullpen targets that the Rays may have (Joaquin BenoitKiko Calero, and Kelvim Escobar), but really, how active should we expect the Rays to be this winter?  Andrew Friedman has been quite active during each of the past two off-seasons, with the Rays appearing in many rumors and completing multiple trades and signings, and I fully expect this trend to continue.  Remaining an all-star caliber player requires constant adjustment and adaptation, and the same goes on a larger scale with franchises.

That said, where can we expect the changes with the Rays to occur this off-season?  Friedman and the Rays' front office typically plays very close to the chest, but we can make some educated guesses based on our salary obligations for next season.   What is our payroll looking like for 2010?  Will we need to shed payroll or can we expect to increase it?  Let's break it down by roster spots: the rotation, the bullpen, the lineup, and the bench.

Rotation

Millions

Shields

$2.50

Garza

Arb1

Niemann

$1.29

Price

$1.93

Davis

$0.43


Bullpen

Millions

Howell

Arb1

Balfour

Arb3

Wheeler

$3.50

Cormier

Arb2

Sonnanstine

$0.43

Choate

$0.43

(Thayer?)

$0.43


Lineup

Millions

Navarro

Arb2

Pena

$10.25

Zobrist

$0.43

Bartlett

Arb2

Longoria

$0.95

Crawford

$8.25

Upton

Arb1

Joyce

$0.43

Burrell

$9.00


Bench

Millions

Zaun

$2.00

Aybar

$1.35

Rodriguez

$0.43

Perez

$0.43

 

Keep in mind, this is merely a look at the Rays current salary obligations for 2010.  I filled in some likely moves - promoting Joyce and Rodriguez, declining Aki's option, and keeping Davis in the rotation - to round out the 25 man roster, so we can get an idea of what our payroll for 2010 would look like if the season were to start today.  Any moves the Rays could do (like signing Kapler for a bench spot instead of Perez or signing extra relief pitchers), would mean substituting those players and their salaries in for someone else here.

You may have noticed that the Rays have 7 players eligible for arbitration this year, which makes it rather tough to determine where our payroll stands at the moment.  Discounting them, the Rays payroll for 2010 currently stands at around $51M, but those seven players include some pretty big names that could receive significant pay increases. 

To estimate what these arbitration hearings will cost the Rays, I took the last season wins above replacement (WAR) for each of these seven players.  If each player were to be paid fair-market value for the performance this past season, they would get about $4.3M per WAR; however, arbitration hearings typically still underpay players based on their performance.  On average, players in their first year of arbitration get paid 40% of their value, players in their second year get paid 60%, and players in their third year get paid 80%.  Using these breakdowns, we get 2010 salaries that look something like this:

Players

Millions

Garza

$6.12

Navarro

$1.89

Bartlett

$12.96

Upton

$4.86

Howell

$1.98

Balfour

$3.24

Cormier

$1.35

Obviously, this is an imperfect system for estimating, but it's a good starting block.  Arbitration hearings are not based on WAR, but instead tend to rely on more traditional statistics like BA, HRs, RBIs, ERA, Wins, etc, so you can expect Garza's salary to be less than $6M and Upton's less than $5M.  Also, I couldn't exactly give Navarro a negative salary (although he should have to pay the Rays for his performance this past season), so I estimated his hearing at 10% less than he received this past season.  Howell, Balfour, and Cormier seem about right, although Howell might get a little more for the "closer" premium.

That leaves us with the very interesting case of Jason Bartlett.  Will he most likely receive a salary this high for next season?  No, I think $13M is quite an over-estimate, but Bartlett is due for a significant pay raise this off-season.  Considering he signed for $2M last season, $4-6M certainly isn't out of the question.  For comparison, Jimmy Rollins, Jose Reyes, and Hanley Ramirez received around $4-6M for their Arb2 years, although they had all signed long-term deals by that time.  I'm not saying Bartlett is in their class, but Bartlett has been praised quite heavily these past two years and he's got some solid numbers from 2009 to back him up.  He's going to be quite pricey.

Conclusion

So if you put all of these sections together, including the arbitration estimates (and scaling Bartlett down to $6M), we get a final budget of $69.9M.  This puts us right about where our payroll started off this past season.  In other words, even though we shed some big contracts recently (Percy, Kazmir, Bradford, and in this hypothetical case, Aki), salary escalations for certain players (Pena, Crawford, and Burrell most notably) and arbitration hearings don't leave our franchise with much budget room.  Maybe the Rays were planning on expanding payroll again this off-season, but the odds on this happening are pretty low.

Where does this leave us?  Well, if the Rays want to make any considerable acquisitions this off-season, they're going to need to shed salary somewhere.  Even signing two bullpen arms for $1M each, signing Kapler for $1M, and signing a different catcher for $4M (still a $2M increase after losing Navarro's $2M) would potentially leave us needing to shed some budget.  With that in mind, I think the Rays will look to move Bartlett or Crawford, since both are getting older, more expensive, and have values that are riding high.  Bartlett seems the most obvious target to trade since we've got such infield depth, but I'm sure the Rays will explore all potential routes before making any moves.

Basically, if you want to see the Rays make a run at a good catcher or attempt to sign higher-end bullpen talent, remember that the salary for those signings is going to have to come from somewhere.  The 2010 Rays are at (or at very least, near) capacity at the moment, so be prepared to see some exciting trades happening this off-season as well.

All contract information courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.

SB Nation Featured Video
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join DRaysBay

You must be a member of DRaysBay to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at DRaysBay. You should read them.

Join DRaysBay

You must be a member of DRaysBay to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at DRaysBay. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker