Friday, February 25, 2011

NL Central Payroll obligations for the next 2 seasons

Much has been said about the Cubs payroll obligations at the beginning of this past off-season. Before even considering signing any free agents this winter, the Cubs had upwards of $98 million in guaranteed contracts to just 9 players.

It has been mentioned many times by people that the Cubs will have significant money coming off their roster after the 2011 season. Because of that, reporters, columnists, and fans have all stated that the Cubs might be in the best position to sign Albert Pujols before the 2012 season.

Are the Cubs actually in a good position after this season is over? And how do they match up with the rest of the division as far as contract obligations over the next two off-seasons?

Well, let's take a look at the charts for each team in the NL Central (except the Pirates, who don't really count).

Player 2012 2013
Lee $19.00 FA
Rodriguez $10.50 $13.50
Myers $12.00 $3.00
Pence Arb 3 Arb 4
Lyon $5.50 FA
Bourn Arb 3 FA
Hall $0.25
Keppinger Arb 3 FA
Quintero Arb 4 FA
Figueroa Arb 2 Arb 3
Rowland-Smith Arb 2 Arb 3
Happ Arb 1 Arb 2
Fulchino Arb 1 Arb 2
Towles Arb 1 Arb 2
Arias Arb 1 Arb 2

TOTAL $47.25 $16.50
The Astros have what I would call an average obligation amount for 2012, and very little in terms of long term deals after that.  The Astros have a lot of rebuilding to do, but should have plenty of money to sign some longer term deals with some of their better younger players or go after some free agents.  Remember that this team, for a time, was one of the biggest spending clubs in the National League.

Player 2012 2013
Greinke $13.50 FA
Wolf $9.50 $1.50
Hart $9.33 $10.33
Weeks $11.00 $11.00
Betancourt $2.00
Braun $6.29 $8.79
Marcum Arb 3 FA
Gallardo $5.75 $8.00
Gomez Arb 3 Arb 4
Loe Arb 3 FA
Parra Arb 2 Arb 3
Green Arb 3 FA
Nieves Arb 3 FA
McGehee Arb 1 Arb 2
Stetter Arb 1 Arb 2
Dickerson Arb 1 Arb 2
Kottaras Arb 1 Arb 2

TOTAL $57.37 $39.62
The Brewers have set themselves up nicely by signing much of their home grown talent to longer term deals buying out their remaining arbitration years and their first few free agency years...most notably Ryan Braun.  McGehee is going to get a huge raise starting in 2012 and it is very possible the Brewers will try to lock him up like the did with Braun.  On has to question the contract they just gave the oft-injured Rickie Weeks.  With $40 million tied up with 4 players, and another $7 or $8 million to McGehee, this small market team might have to rely on more home grown talent to remain competitive after the 2011 season.  But in the end, their payroll flexibility for years to come probably depends on what they do with Prince Fielder in 2012 and Zack Greinke in 2013. Most believe there is little chance that Fielder stays.  That would give them the opportunity to get Greinke locked up for at last a nice 4 year deal.  Either way, there is a lot of talent on this team for the next 3 seasons. 

Player 2012 2013
Holliday $17.00 $17.00
Carpenter $1.00
Lohse $12.19 FA
Westbrook $8.50 opt
Wainwright $9.00 $12.00
Molina $0.75
Theriot Arb 3 FA
Schumaker Arb 3 FA
McClellan Arb 2 Arb 3
Cox $0.85 $0.95
Rasmus Arb 1 Arb 2
Motte Arb 1 Arb 2
Garcia Arb 2 Arb 3

TOTAL $49.29 $29.95
For the Cardinals it comes down to how much they will end up paying Albert Pujols.  On top of that...they have to decide with to do with the aging Chris Carpenter, and Yadier Molina.  Molina does have an option for 2012...and the Cardinals will likely want to pick that up adding another $7 million to that payroll mark. Jaime Garcia, if he continues to be as good as he was last year, will be going into arbitration too, and could command a ton of money.  The Cardinals are going to have to rely on filling their holes with either home grown talent or cheap cast-off free agents.  Whether Pujols signs for $25 million or $30 million, it's not going to matter much.  It's going to be difficult for St. Louis with Holliday, Wainwright, and Garcia all on the hook for a lot of money already.  This core is good, but the team will struggle without much support around them.

Player 2012 2013
Soriano $19.00 $19.00
Zambrano $19.00 opt
Ramirez $2.00
Dempster $14.00 FA
Silva $2.00
Garza Arb 3 Arb 4
Byrd $6.50 FA
Marmol $7.00 $9.80
Soto Arb 2 Arb 3
Marshall $3.10 FA
Baker Arb 3 FA
Hill Arb 3 FA
Wells Arb 1 Arb 2
DeWitt Arb 1 Arb 2
Perez Arb 1 Arb 2

TOTAL $72.60 $28.80
People talk about how much money comes off the books for the Cubs in 2012.  With that said, they will still have a ton of money tied up in just a few players with Dempster, Zambrano and Soriano making $52 million in 2012.  The Cubs have more money allocated to their overall payroll than any other team in the division by probably $25 million.  In reality, most of the money comes off the books after the 2012 season with only Carlos Marmol and Soriano due anything significant.  Zambrano has a vesting option in 2013 for $19 million, but it requires him to have a couple of rather outstanding years for that to happen. With that said, the Cubs will be in search of almost an entire new team by then.  Soto's value in arbitration will probably elevate significantly.  Starlin Castro could hit arbitration in 2013 if he continues to improve.  The Cubs have a ton of holes to fill in the next two years...if the system doesn't produce any results, they'll have the money to get just about anyone they want. 

Player 2012 2013
Cordero $1.00
Arroyo $12.00 $11.50
Phillips $1.00
Rolen $8.17 FA
Votto $11.50 $19.00
Chapman $4.71 $4.71
Cueto $5.40 $7.40
Bruce $5.08 $7.54
Volquez Arb 2 Arb 3
Masset Arb 3 Arb 4
Alonso $1.40
Cairo $1.00 FA
Lewis Arb 2 Arb 3

Burton Arb 3 Arb 4
Bray Arb 2 Arb 3
Bailey Arb 1 Arb 2
Hanigan Arb 1 Arb 2
Herrera Arb 1 Arb 2
Janish Arb 1 Arb 2

TOTAL $51.26 $50.19
(note...Yasmani Granda, the Reds 2010 first round draft pick, did sign a big league contract, but outside of the signing bonus of $3 million, the terms of the deal are unknown.)
The Reds have a lot of young talent...and now they are going to have to pay the price for it.  They have more money owed for 2013 than any other team in the division.  They have contract buyouts for Cordero and Phillips, if they pick up the options on both of those guys, that will add $22 million to that total for 2012.  What will they do with Edinson Volquez?  Will they go the Brewers route and try to sign him to a deal to buy out the rest of his arbitration years and a couple of his free agency years?  This is a smaller market team and they may have a hard time maintaining deeply talented roster.  A couple of injuries will set this franchise back significantly.  Even if the rest of the roster does produce, Dusty will figure out a way to make the whole thing just fall apart. 



Despite all the money coming off the books for the Cubs in 2012, they still have a rather large payroll obligation to this point for just a few players.  The Cardinals could be headed for some tight financial times.  e The Brewers seem setup for make a good run for the next 3 years, especially if they can find some way to keep Prince Fielder.  They might be better of letting him go, though and focus more on extending Zack Greinke.  The Reds are sitting on a fence and could go the way of the Brewers if they make some wise moves, or the way of the Cardinals if they spend their money in the wrong places.  Houston will have a lot of money and they'll need it because they have the most holes to fill.  I didn't really figure in the Pirates because, frankly, they have practically no significant payroll obligations.  Andrew McCutchen will be due money soon...hopefully the Pirates pay him because those fans desperately need something to cheer for. 

For us Cubs fans, it is important to note that the Cubs don't appear to be in bad shape, especially with the revenues available, once 2011 is over.  We just need to hope for one of two things to happen after this season.  Either the young players have to step up and become the true leaders of this team, or we have to trust Jim Hendry (or whoever the GM at the time is) will make some solid veteran pickups. 

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts which I used for the payroll data.