Salary arbitration doesn't happen until December, but when a team is planning its offseason its got to know its projected payroll and part of that is trying to figure out how much the arbitration eligible players will be making next season. MLB The organization probably have their own projection models, but us on the outside have to rely on ones like MLBTradeRumors'. They recently posted theirs for all the arbitration eligible players and that included a number of Padres:
- Marc Rzepczynski (5.132) – $3.0MM
- Andrew Cashner (5.126) – $7.0MM
- Cory Luebke (5.033) – $5.25MM arbitration projection; has a $7.5MM club option with a $1.75MM buyout.
- Tyson Ross (4.126) – $10.0MM
- Yonder Alonso (4.116) – $2.5MM
- Derek Norris (3.102) – $3.4MM
- Will Middlebrooks (3.057) – $1.5MM
- Brett Wallace (3.003) – $1.1MM
If you add all those numbers up it accounts for $34 million in salary. The Padres already had about $73.6 million in salary committed for 2016 from the salaries of James Shields, Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton Jr., Craig Kimbrel, Jedd Gyorko, and Alexi Amarista along with buyouts for Joaquin Benoit and Clint Barmes. That's a total of $117.6 million in projected salary. Of course that's only a roster of 14 players and one of them (Luebke) might not even be ready for opening day. If you fill the rest of the 25 man roster with $500K (league minimum) guys then that's $6M more for a total $123.6M. That's $15M more than the 2015 opening day payroll. And it could still go up if they want to retain the services of Benoit and/or Barmes. Not to mention free agency and trades.
With that payroll number staring them in the face they may want to cut some guys out. Arbitration eligible players don't have to be offered contracts. The Padres can non-tender them and make them free agents. A couple names here might fit the bill: Will Middlebrooks, Mark Rzepczynski and Cory Luebke would make sense. Luebke would still be owed that $1.75M buyout, but not the addition $5.25M that MLBTR projects. He might even want to sign back at a lesser rate afterwards. It only saves about $9.75M, but maybe that's money that can be better spent than on those 3.
One thing that stands out to me with the projected salaries is Ross' $10M. That's quite a hefty sum. To put that in perspective, Ross made $5.25M in 2015, so $10M almost double his current rate. He has a year less service time than Cashner and would make $3M more. He has a year less service time than Ian Kennedy had entering 2015 and Kennedy earned just under $10M for this season. It's an interesting sum. One that he deserves, but I'm interested to see if the projection holds up.