Something constructive to take your mind off the NLCS and the Baker extension: The 2013 contract status for the players on the 2012 Reds major league roster and the initial payroll situation.


Signed – team control, agreed salary amount (2012 > 2013)

  • Joey Votto ($9.5 m > $17 m)
  • Brandon Phillips ($12 m > $10 m)
  • Jay Bruce ($5 m > $7.5 m)
  • Johnny Cueto ($5.4 m > $7.4 m)
  • Aroldis Chapman ($2 m > $2 m)
  • Bronson Arroyo ($12 m > $11.5 m)
  • Sean Marshall ($3.1 > $4.5 m)
  • Ryan Hanigan ($1.2 m > $2 m)
  • Jose Arredondo ($800,000  > $1.2 m)
  • Nick Massett ($2.4 m > $3.1 m)

Options – varying control, agreed salary amount

  • Ryan Madson ($11 m club option, $2.5 m buy out)
  • Ryan Ludwick ($5 m mutual option, $500,000 buyout)

Entering third arbitration season – team control, negotiated salary amount

  • Bill Bray ($1.42 m in ’12)

Entering second arbitration season – team control, negotiated salary amount

  • Homer Bailey ($2.4 m in ’12)
  • Wilson Valdez ($930,000 in ’12)

Entering first arbitration season – team control, negotiated salary amount

  • Mat Latos
  • Drew Stubbs
  • Mike Leake
  • Chris Heisey
  • Alfredo Simon
  • Xavier Paul

Pre-arbitration – team control, league minimum salary

  • Logan Ondrusek
  • Todd Frazier
  • Sam LeCure
  • Zack Cozart
  • Devin Mesoraco
  • JJ Hoover

Free agents – player control

  • Scott Rolen ($6.5 m in ’12)
  • Miguel Cairo ($1 m in ’12)
  • [UPDATE] Jonathan Broxton ($4 m in ’12)

(If you need a refresher on the arbitration system, here’s the primer from last season. Quick version: Once a player is called up to the major leagues, the club enjoys six years of “team control” over that player. For three seasons, the players work for league minimum salary – roughly $500,000 – as established by the collective bargaining agreement. After that, the player is entitled to three years of arbitration. A few players, called Super Twos, qualify for two years of minimum and four years of arbitration. At the end of six seasons, the player is eligible for free agency. Teams may decline to “tender” arbitration offers to a player, in which case the player becomes a free agent.)


The payroll for the 10 players under contract plus the Madson buy-out adds up to $68.7 million. Those eleven players were paid $59.4 million in 2012. Five of the pre-arbitration players are easy decisions (all but Ondrusek) and that adds another $2.5 million to the payroll. If the Reds choose, Tony Cingrani and Didi Gregorius (each league minimum) could replace Bill Bray and Wilson Valdez, adding another $1 million total to payroll.

Homer should make $4-5 million in arbitration. Simon and Heisey should be cheap arbitration signees, both less than $1 million, say $2 million for the two. Put Mike Leake around $2 million and Drew Stubbs at $2.2 million. Mat Latos will earn around $4 million in his first arbitration season.  These numbers are estimates based on comparables from 2012 arbitration awards.

If you add all that up, the Reds would owe about $83.5 million in salary. They would still have four needs:

  1. Replace or resign Ludwick in LF
  2. Sign a fifth OF (and/or a starting CF to replace Stubbs)
  3. Sign a back-up infielder who could play 1B and/or 3B
  4. Sign a closer to enable Aroldis Chapman’s move to the starting rotation

From of the LF/CF mix, the Reds have to find a lead-off hitter with a good OBP. They may choose to sign a second experienced LHP for the bullpen instead of Cingrani or Bray.

What will the payroll budget be this year for the Reds? That’s the $64 $70 $80 $90 $100 million question, isn’t it?

The Reds payroll was around $81 million last year, depending on how you calculate it. My opinion was – and still is – that the Votto and Phillips contracts signaled the intention of ownership to move toward a $100 million payroll. The question is whether that jump will take place quickly or over 4-5 seasons.

Absent a major salary-dumping trade or restructuring, which I don’t foresee, the Reds payroll could easily reach the mid-$90 millions in 2013 – and may even approach $100 million – which would represent a generous one-year jump.