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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