Monday's Frosty Mug: A clean arbitration slate

Bob Levey

We're looking at the Brewers' updated budget and much more in today's news roundup.

Some things to read while working out.

We are 24 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Maryvale and the Brewers have crossed an item off their pre-spring to-do list, agreeing to 2014 contracts with Marco Estrada ($3.325 million) and Juan Francisco ($1.35 million). Those two were the Brewers' last arbitration-eligible players.

If the Brewers are going to be relevant in any way in 2014 they likely need a full productive season from Estrada, who has a 4.01 ERA over 100 appearances as a Brewer but has never pitched more than 138.1 innings in an MLB season. You can count Noah among the optimists, though, as demonstrated in our Tweet of the Day:

In addition to Estrada, the Brewers may also be looking for big innings increases from guys like Tyler Thornburg and/or Jimmy Nelson. Anthony Joshi-Pawlowic of Beyond the Box Score makes the case for innings limits to be abolished.

Meanwhile, Francisco has a new challenge ahead of him as he'll have to compete with new minor league signee Mark Reynolds for playing time this spring. Mike Petriello of FanGraphs has a look at what Reynolds means to Milwaukee, including this pretty telling quote:

For the price of nothing - $2m if he makes the team, and $500k in possible incentives - Milwaukee has probably added value, and so it's difficult to argue with that. But then, the opportunity to discuss the Brewers in any context does raise the significant question of, well, what exactly the team is doing.

At Beyond the Box Score, Evan Kendall asks if Reynolds can fill the Brewers' void at first base.

The Brewers may have had the inside track on Reynolds because they train in Arizona: @Mass_Haas spotted a note saying Reynolds preferred to sign with a Cactus League team and many of his other suitors have camps based in Florida. Reviewing the Brew collected fan reaction to the transaction.

Even with Reynolds in the fold, however, some uncertainty remains at first base. The vote is split in this Reviewing the Brew poll between preferring Reynolds as the full-time starter and favoring a platoon with Francisco. Meanwhile, on Saturday Eric ran a post looking at why it doesn't make sense to move four other prominent Brewers to first.

Reynolds could earn a maximum of $2.5 million in 2014 if he makes the team and maxes out his incentives. The Book of Gorman has updated their payroll projections to include him and now has the Brewers spending just under $82 million with one roster spot open.

That figure is different from some others you might have seen because it takes deferred money into account. Derek Harvey has a look at some of the deferrals we know about. In a related note, this morning I learned the Diamondbacks are still paying outfielder Bernard Gilkey, who last played in the majors in 2001, through 2017.

If the organization is done spending, then what should we expect from the 2014 Brewers? Noted leisured gentleman Carson Cistulli of FanGraphs has a look at Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections for this year, which aren't exceptionally optimistic. If you'd like a smaller look at the result without actually having to click on anything, Jaymes Langrehr has you covered in our second Tweet of the Day:

That projection features Ryan Braun in right field, which will take some getting used to. If you're also struggling with the adjustment, Jess Lemont of The Brewers Bar has a visual aid that might help.

You can also get used to it while seeing Braun at Brewers On Deck. 28 current players are among those scheduled to attend the offseason event.

Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado project to be one of baseball's most productive catching tandems this season, and that's before you consider pitch framing. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs notes that the pair are among baseball's best at getting low pitches called strikes. In a related note, Nick Ashbourne of Beyond the Box Score asks if we're seeing a golden age of catching.

If the Brewers do decide not to make any more moves then you can cross Milwaukee off the list of veteran infielder Michael Young's possible destinations. Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times wonders if Young could return to the Dodgers.

In the minors:

  • Juan Francisco hit a go-ahead home run in the top of the ninth on Saturday as Licey beat Cibao to advance to the Dominican Winter League's championship series. Brewerfan.net has the video, and Francisco's celebration likely would not have gone over well back in the states.
  • Licey was off Sunday but the best-of-nine championship series with Escogido opens tonight.
  • Meanwhile in Puerto Rico, Martin Maldonado went 1-for-3 with a walk but it was not enough as Mayaguez lost 5-1 to Caguas in the first game of the Puerto Rican championship series (box score). Irving Falu went 0-for-5 for Mayaguez, while Jose De La Torre pitched a scoreless eighth for the victors.
  • Jason Arndt of Brewers Farm Report has a story on hard throwing 2013 Brevard County Manatees pitcher Damien Magnifico.
  • @Mass_Haas notes that Venezuelan catcher and longtime Brewers minor leaguer Anderson De La Rosa has signed with the Angels. De La Rosa was a spring training invitee the last couple of seasons and is a career .238/.282/.341 hitter across ten seasons largely spent as a backup.
  • In the FanPosts section, polockwithanattitude has a recap of the Brewers' affiliate situation with AA Huntsville and a ranked prediction of AA teams the Brewers could be working with in 2015.
  • Chris Mehring of Rattler Radio has photos from a snowy Neuroscience Group Field at Fox Cities Stadium.

If you weren't around the site this weekend you might have missed JP's weekly look at what we learned over the previous seven days. Last week might have been the busiest of the offseason.

Lots of arbitration settlements made for the biggest weekend of the season around baseball: (All arbitration deals are one year unless otherwise noted.)

Angels: Avoided arbitration with relievers Ernesto Frieri ($3.8 million) and Fernando Salas ($870,000).
Astros: Avoided arbitration with catcher Jason Castro ($2.45 million) and first baseman Jesus Guzman (terms undisclosed).
Athletics: Avoided arbitration with infielder Jed Lowrie ($5.25 million) and pitcher Luke Gregerson ($5.065 million).
Braves: Avoided arbitration with pitcher Kris Medlen ($5.8 million), third baseman Chris Johnson ($4.75 million), pitcher Mike Minor ($3.85 million) and outfielder Jordan Schafer ($1.09 million).
Cardinals: Avoided arbitration with outfielders Jon Jay ($3.25 million) and Peter Bourjos ($1.2 million).
Cubs: Avoided arbitration with outfielder Nate Schierholtz ($5 million), pitchers James Russell ($1.775 million) and Pedro Strop ($1.325 million) and infielder Luis Valbuena ($1.71 million). 
Diamondbacks: Avoided arbitration with reliever Joe Thatcher ($2.375 million).
Giants: Avoided arbitration with outfielder Gregor Blanco ($2.525 million), pitcher Yusmeiro Petit ($845,000) and infielder Tony Abreu ($745,000).
Mariners: Signed pitchers Joe Beimel and Logan Kensing and catcher Manny Pina to minor league deals.
Marlins: Avoided arbitration with outfielder Giancarlo Stanton ($6.5 million) and pitchers Steve Cishek ($3.8 million) and Mike Dunn ($1.4 million).
Mets: Avoided arbitration with infielder Daniel Murphy ($5.7 million) and pitchers Bobby Parnell ($3.7 million) and Dillon Gee ($3.625 million) and signed infielder Omar Quintanilla and pitcher John Lannan to minor league deals.
Nationals: Avoided arbitration with shortstop Ian Desmond (two years, $17.5 million), reliever Drew Storen ($3.45 million), catcher Wilson Ramos ($2.095 million) and reliever Jerry Blevins (terms undisclosed).
Orioles: Avoided arbitration with first baseman Chris Davis ($10.35 million), relievers Tommy Hunter ($3 million) and Troy Patton ($1.275 million) and pitcher Brian Matusz ($2.4 million).
Padres: Avoided arbitration with third baseman Chase Headley ($10.525 million), shortstop Everth Cabrera ($2.45 million), pitcher Tyson Ross ($1.98 million) and first baseman/outfielder Kyle Blanks ($987,500).
Phillies: Avoided arbitration with outfielder John Mayberry Jr. ($1.5875 million).
Pirates: Avoided arbitration with second baseman Neil Walker ($5.75 million), third baseman Pedro Alvarez ($4.25 million), first baseman Gaby Sanchez ($2.3 million) and pitchers Mark Melancon ($2.595 million) and Vin Mazzaro ($900,000).
Rangers: Avoided arbitration with pitchers Neftali Feliz ($3 million) and Alexi Ogando ($2.625 million) and signed pitcher Rafael Perez to a minor league deal.
Rays: Avoided arbitration with outfielder Matt Joyce ($3.7 million), pitcher Jeremy Hellickson ($3.6 million), infielder/outfielder Sean Rodriguez ($1.5 million), pitcher Jake McGee ($1.5 million), catcher Jose Lobaton ($950,000) and pitcher Cesar Ramos ($750,000).
Red Sox: Avoided arbitration with first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp ($1.4 million) and reliever Junichi Tazawa ($1.275 million).
Reds: Avoided arbitration with pitchers Mike Leake ($5.925 million), Sam LeCure ($3.05 million) and Alfredo Simon ($1.5 million) and outfielder Chris Heisey ($1.6 million).
Royals: Avoided arbitration with pitchers Luke Hochevar ($5.21 million) and Tim Collins ($1.3625 million) and first baseman Eric Hosmer ($3.6 million).
Tigers: Avoided arbitration with pitcher Rick Porcello ($8.5 million), outfielder Austin Jackson ($6 million), outfielder Andy Dirks ($1.625 million) and reliever Al Alburquerque ($837,500).
Twins: Avoided arbitration with infielder Trevor Plouffe ($2.5 million) and pitchers Brian Duensing ($2 million) and Anthony Swarzak ($935,000).
White Sox: Avoided arbitration with outfielder Alejandro De Aza ($4.25 million) and second baseman Gordon Beckham ($4.175 million).

Even with all of those settlements, across baseball there are still 38 arbitration cases remaining. Talking Chop has a rundown.

Also worth noting: With the arbitration commitments above, the Rays will now have an Opening Day payroll above $77 million for the first time in franchise history.

Today in former Brewers:

Today's sabermetrics note comes via the FanGraphs Community, where a poster attempted to use RA/9 (runs allowed per nine innings) to rework the Quality Start statistic.

Finally, with help from Brewerfan.net and the B-Ref Play Index, we'd like to wish a happy birthday today to:

Plunk Everyone notes that Santana's 21 career hit batsmen are tied for the fifth most ever for a pitcher born on January 20.

Today is also the 18th anniversary of the Brewers signing pitcher Ben McDonald, a former #1 overall pick, as a free agent in 1996. We covered that event in Today In Brewer History two years ago.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to try out again.

Drink up.

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