The Arbitration Deadline
Baseball is a complicated sport on the field and off. The arbitration process is a prime example. Teams retain control over a player for 6 years before that player is eligible for free agency. Typically that player has 3 pre-arbitration years where he earns at or near league minimum. Then he has 3 arbitration years during which he can negotiate his salary with his team.
If the two sides can agree on a salary, then that's what the player makes for that season. If the two sides cannot, then they head to an arbitration hearing. Each side presents it's case to an impartial arbiter who then decides which figure to side with. That figure is what the player will make for that season.
There is an initial deadline (which has already passed) at which point a team decides if they will extend a contract to an arbitration eligible player. If they choose not to, that player becomes a free agent. Should the team extend a contract, the next step is to file arbitration figures (assuming terms are not already agreed upon).
The Brewers extended contracts to each of their arbitration eligible players. Those players are Brandon Kintzler, Martin Maldonado, and Gerardo Parra.
Friday of this week is the deadline to file and exchange arbitration salary figures. For us, as fans, this means very little. Until a salary is decided we won't hear any specific news. It just means that the Brewers and their arbitration eligible players will be one step closer to coming to an agreement on their arbitration salaries.
The Brewers and Brandon Kintzler have already agreed to terms. He will make $1.075 million with another $25,000 possible through incentives. That leaves Martin Maldonado and Gerardo Parra.
Maldonado is entering his first arbitration year and Parra is entering his fourth and final arbitration year. Earlier this off season I projected Kintlzer to get $0.9 million, Maldonado $0.75 million, and Parra $6.5 million. MLB Trade Rumors projected Kintzler to get $0.9 million, Maldonado $1 million, and Parra $6.4 million.
The final step in the arbitration process is the actual arbitration hearing. The Brewers are usually able to avoid this step by coming to an agreement ahead of time. I think the last time they couldn't was with Corey Hart in 2010. I'd guess they'll almost certainly be able to avoid a hearing with Maldonado. Gerardo Parra might be a different story though.
Obviously the Brewers will want to pay him as little as they have to and Parra will want to get paid as much as he can. The Brewers would likely argue that he had the worst season of his career in 2014, his overall offense is slightly below average, and that he'll be a 4th outfielder for them. Parra will likely argue that 2014 was a fluke, he's a gold glove winner, had a 4.6 WAR season as recently as 2013, and that just because the Brewers will use him as a 4th outfielder doesn't mean he isn't a quality full time player.
These hearings can get pretty ugly because the club is basically arguing the player isn't as good as he thinks he is. That's part of the reason the Brewers try to avoid them altogether. If indeed the two sides end up going into an arbitration hearing, it could be a while before we learn the decision. Hearings will be held February 1-21.
The Brewers 2015 Payroll
It's been a while since I updated my projected Brewers payroll for 2015. The last one came out on November 4th! Since then...well, nothing has happened. The Brewers did come to terms with Brandon Kintzler on his 2015 salary though and since it's been so long I figured now was a good time to update it. So here you go:
|SP-Yovani Gallardo: $13M||RP-Jonathan Broxton: $9M||C-Jonathan Lucroy: $3.4M||BN-Martin Maldonado: $0.75M|
|SP- Matt Garza: $12.5M||RP-Will Smith: $0.5M||1B-Adam Lind: $7.5||BN-Gerardo Parra: $6.5M|
|SP-Kyle Lohse: $11M||RP-Jeremy Jeffress: $0.5M||2B-Scooter Gennett: $0.5M||BN-Elian Herrera: $0.5M|
|SP-Wily Peralta: $0.5M||RP-Brandon Kintzler: $1.1M||3B-Aramis Ramiez: $14M||BN-Hector Gomez: $0.5M|
|SP-Mike Fiers: $0.5M||RP-Jimmy Nelson: $0.5M||SS-Jean Segura: $0.5M||BN-Luis Jimenez: $0.5M|
|RP-Rob Wooten: $0.5M||LF-Khris Davis: $0.5M|
|RP-Michael Blazek: $0.5M||CF-Carlos Gomez: $8M|
|RF-Ryan Braun: $13M|
|Rotation Total: $37.5M||Bullpen Total: $12.6M||Lineup Total: $47M||
Bench Total: $8.75M
Team Total: $106,347,500
As always there are a few things that need to be clarified. To keep the table tidy I listed the pre-arb players as making $0.5 million. If you just added the numbers in the table, you'd get $106.25 million. However the league minimum is now $507,500. With 13 pre-arb players on the roster, that raises the payroll by $97,500 for a total of $106,347,500. Some of those players might make a tad bit more, but it will be a negligible amount.
Also, the figures for Gerardo Parra and Martin Maldonado are my projections. Those players could earn more or less than listed.
The bullpen and the bench are as yet not settled. The Opening Day bench may very well be as presented here but I'm fairly confident the bullpen will look slightly different. If Tyler Thornburg and Jim Henderson are healthy, they might take the places of Rob Wooten and Michael Blazek. That wouldn't change the payroll though, as each of those players are still in their pre-arb years. It's also possible there could be an outside addition to the pen before the season starts.
Two million of Matt Garza's salary is deferred, but he can also make as much as $1 million in performance bonuses. As noted earlier, Kintzler makes a base of $1.075 million with another $0.025 available in performance bonuses.
It's often been commented by Brewers beat reporters that the payroll is "approaching $110 million" and how that doesn't leave much money to spend. I believe that is mostly true. It is interesting to note with the Opening Day roster set this way the Brewers have only added $2,649,533 more than 2014's Opening Day payroll.
It's important to note though, a total of $8 million in salary between Aramis Ramirez and Matt Garza was deferred last year. That's compared to only $2 million in deferred salary for 2015. So perhaps it's more fair to say the 2015 Opening Day payroll has increased by $8,649,533. That's a much more substantial increase and it makes it more believable that the Brewers are hesitant or perhaps even unable to add another $5 million to the bullpen.
Contract and payroll details courtesy of Cot's Contracts.