Brewers Arbitration Estimates | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

Last week, I examined the size of the wallet the Brewers will be wielding this off-season. I turned out the team’s pockets and helped hunt for change in the couch cushion. In the end, the rough estimate was that the Brewers would have around $13M to fill six roster spots. Of course, many variables could change that outlook over the off-season.

The hardest part of that equation was to determine the potential salaries for the arbitration eligible Brewers. Admittedly, it was a tough issue that I dodged for the most part. Thankfully, the gang over at MLB Trade Rumors examined that exact issues last week. Using a model developed by Matt Swartz, MLBTR broke down the potential price tags on Milwaukee’s three arbitration eligible players – Marco Estrada, Burke Badenhop, and Juan Francisco. Below are the results and how they affect my $13M for six players outlook.

Marco Estrada avoided arbitration last season by signing a one year, $1.955M contract for the 2013 season. It was a significant pay raise from his $0.48M price tag in 2012. Though Estrada has landed on the DL a few times, his numbers as a starting pitcher are still strong enough to warrant another hefty bump. Considering his numbers and over four years of experience in the show, MLBTR predicts that Estrada will land around $3.5M next year.

Burke Badenhop has clocked over five years in the big leagues and avoided an arbitration hearing every season. Instead, he’s been able to come to terms with teams on steady pay raises that eventually saw him make $1.55M last season. MLBTR sees another slight bump and says that Badenhop will walk away with a $2.1 M contract for the 2014 season.

Finally, the mighty Juan Francisco gets an invite to the arbitration dance for the first time in his career. Francisco made $496,250 last season, which was $6,250 over the league minimum. Even though Francisco only has an estimated 2.156 years of service time, he does qualify for “Super Two” status and will enjoy the pay raise that comes with it. MLBTR foresees Francisco clearing almost a $1M more than he did last year and signing at around $1.4M for the 2014 season.

When doing my initial projects, I lacked any sophisticated computer models to help me determine potential arbitration prices. I assumed the Brewers would hold onto Estrada and factored in a conservative pay raise of $2.25M. I mentioned that Badenhop and Francisco were also arbitration eligible but didn’t attempt to guess what they would cost the team. So neither were factored into the equation that the Brewers would have around $13M to fill six roster spots. Let’s do that now.

First, here’s a quick summary of how I got to those numbers. The Brewers have these nine veterans under contracts that will cost the team a total of $68,050,000 in 2014.

Player 2014 Salary
Yovani Gallardo $11,500,000
Ryan Braun $11,000,000
Kyle Lohse $11,000,000
Rickie Weeks $11,000,000
Aramis Ramirez $10,000,000
Carlos Gomez $7,000,000
Tom Gorzelanny $2,950,000
Jonathan Lucroy $2,100,000
Norichika Aoki $1,500,000

The Brewers also have nine young players under team control. Next season, the league minimum salary is $500,000. Most of the Brewers younger players will make the minimum but a few may get a few thousand over the minimum for their strong 2013 performance. Expect the nine players below to cost the team around $4,520,000 –

  • Jeff Bianchi
  • Khris Davis
  • Scooter Gennett
  • Jim Henderson
  • Brandon Kintzler
  • Martin Maldonado
  • Wily Peralta
  • Logan Schafer
  • Jean Segura

Now let’s add in the Brewers arbitration eligible players with the MLBTR’s 2014 salary estimates.

Player 2014 Potential Salary
Marco Estrada $3.500,000
Burke Badenhop $2,100,000
Juan Francisco $1,400,000

With these three players and their $7,000,000 of salary factored into the 2014 plans, the Brewers would be spending $79,570,000 to fill 21 spots on the opening day roster. If the Brewers opening day payroll lands around $88M again, that would leave about $9M of cash to spend on four roster spots.

Many factors may change this outlook as the off-season progresses. Just don’t expect them to make a big splash. With a limited amount of cash on-hand, Brewers management will have to be smart and tactical in their moves to improve next year’s roster.

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Tell us what do you think.

  1. Mark Gnirk says: October 21, 2013

    Where does Corey Hart factor in?

    • Adam Wieser says: October 23, 2013

      Corey Hart is a free agent. He has expressed interest in returning to the Brewers at a reduced salary — he made $10,333,333 last year without taking a single at-bat. Even at a lower salary, it would be hard to re-sign Hart without pushing payroll to at least $90M, which is an option.

      If the Brewers re-sign all three arbitration eligible players, and hold onto the other players listed above, they will have only four spots on their opening day roster to fill. One needs to be a starting pitcher, most likely young and inexpensive. That leaves three spots.

      The above roster only contains four relief pitchers (Henderson, Kintzler, Gorzelanny, & Badenhop). So, at least, two more relief pitcher will be added. They will also probably come in around league minimum ($500,00).

      So the Brewers could roughly spend around $1.5M for one more SP and two RP. When factored into the framework I laid out above, that would leave around $7.5M to resign Corey Hart and still keep the opening day payroll around $88M.

      Again, all this is hypothetical and contingent on many discussions going on behind closed doors. There is a chance the Brewers could bring Hart back next year but, with limited cash to spend, the organization could just as easily decide that those resources need to be spent elsewhere.

  2. Bob Hale says: October 21, 2013

    Interesting analysis. I suggest they let Francisco and Badenhop go and add two minor leaguers at the minimum salary. With $11M for 4 players, they might be able to get a first baseman and some relief pitchers. To sweeten the pot, I would pay $8M of Rickey’s salary, trade him and use the extra $3M for a really good first baseman.

    • SecondHandStore says: October 21, 2013

      There are no really good first basemen on the free agent market. They’d be better off signing Hart to an incentive laden 1 year deal with Francisco as back-up and Halton in reserve at AAA, in my opinion anyway.

      • dbug says: October 22, 2013

        Maybe they just need to throw Hunter Morris into the fire. It’s not like he is some 20-year-old they are going to ruin. He’s 25 already, if he is going to amount to something they need to find out soon. Maybe a Halton and Morris platoon would work until one of them either proves themselves.

        • dbug says: October 22, 2013

          … or fails.

  3. Jeremy says: October 21, 2013

    Here’s a list of potential Free Agent 1st Basemen…we might as well take the money potentially spent on any of these guys and light it on fire rather than spend it on any of these guys…Plus any worth having (I see none here) would require a draft pick and if we are ever to consistently contend we cant keep donating draft picks. We need to follow the Rays model, not try to be a big market team

    Lance Berkman, Jason Giambi, Travis Hafner, Todd Helton, Eric Hinske, Paul Konerko, Casey Kotchman, Adam Lind, James Loney, Kendrys Morales, Justin Morneau, Mike Morse, Mike Napoli, Lyle Overbay, Carlos Pena, Mark Reynolds, Juan Rivera, Kevin Youkilis

    • Larry Hilden says: October 22, 2013

      I would go with either Helton or Berkman. We need some power from the 1st base!

      • dbug says: October 23, 2013

        I think Helton already decided to retire. Wouldn’t surprise me if Berkman, Konerko, and Giambi followed suit.

  4. Eric says: October 29, 2013

    I don’t think we’re losing any draft picks for signing Juan Rivera….so I don’t know why any pick would come with the loss of a pick. Either way though, there is just stupid money being pumped into baseball right now. The Angels, Dodgers, other TV deals signed by MLB. I think 88 million is pretty arbitrary. As for Hart, I like the idea of bringing him back on a 2 year deal for maybe 10 million guaranteed and incentives that could add a vesting year if he plays lets say 240 games, or other statistical markers. He campaigned pretty strongly in the paper to come back and was really adamant about wanting to come back and play in Milwaukee. Plus, I really liked Hart’s size at 1st base. More than anything, I like the prospect of signing players along the lines of a Corey Hart and then if they have a big start to the year, they’re ideal trade candidates in the event a trade contender loses a 1st basemen.

  5. Lundo says: October 29, 2013

    Yeah lets sign some dinosaur first baseman! Who will hit a whole .240 maybe and get hurt by June or July in which Halton or Morris will need to play anyway… Sorry Crew fans… we got some rebuilding to do, not worry bout spending on ancient players who will have little impact… a Napoli or Loney are out of the question financially.

    • joeisme says: October 29, 2013

      Say goodbye to Badenhop and Mr. K, (Francisco). Halton can be a backup 1B, or if Green makes the roster he can be the backup. I don’t see Hart signing unless it’s for a very small guarantee ($2-3M) and incentives. I think the Brewers want to see what Davis can do a a full time starter and Aoki is the lead-off guy. Braun can play 1B until 2015 when Aoki’s contract is up and Morris should be ready if he ever will be.

    • Eric says: October 31, 2013

      No, a Napoli and Loney are hardly “out of the question financially.” This isn’t the Wendy Selig-Prieb Brewers. I mean, especially Loney? Are you kidding me? He’s out of our price range? Because someone came up with a completely and utterly arbitrary 88 million dollar number for our payroll despite the fact that there is a ridiculous amount of money coming into every teams payroll from revenue sharing? I’m guessing that the Brewers had no CHANCE of signing Ramirez, Lohse, trading for Greinke, Marcum, they weren’t going to offer K-rod arbitration..etc..etc…
      I also don’t know what 40 year old players you’re referring to who can’t hit .240, unless you’re referring to Todd Helton who announced his retirement anyway.

      But hey, Sean Halton and Hunter Morris, both stellar options for a team that had the worst 1st base production in baseball last year. Lets trot out a 27 year old player who had an OBP under.300 in Halton, a guy who will be lucky to latch on anywhere else when the Brewers ultimately dump him, or Hunter Morris who couldn’t hit .240 in AAA last year. There seems to be a disconnect between what the Brewers have historically done under this regime, and what some fans WANT the Brewers to do. They’re obviously not throwing in the towel and rebuilding or Gallardo, Lohse, Aram and a number of other players would be on the trade market and they’re not. They’re not throwing in the towel as much as they should…


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