MLB Trade Rumors has been pretty good at figuring out the arbitration numbers over the last few years for teams and players. Teams, and agents, also have their own projection systems for the arbitration system and how it tends to play out. The Reds have up to eight players that could head to arbitration this winter.
The safe options for the Reds to head to arbitration with are Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, and Curt Casali. There are questions as to whether Cincinnati will go to arbitration with the remaining players. They could non-tender them contracts and allow them to become free agents. That group includes Kevin Gausman, Derek Dietrich, Jose Peraza, and Matt Bowman.
The sticking around group
There are some raises coming for this group, as there should be. MLB Trade Rumors projects a combined $29,700,000 for this group. Let’s take a look at the data:
|Player||Pos||2019 Salary||2020 Projection
The difference column is the raise in salary, not necessarily the raise in the Reds payroll. That only applies for Trevor Bauer, who was acquired for only the final two months, so his salary from 2019 wasn’t paid entirely by Cincinnati.
The potential non-tender group
This group is projected for raises, too, and if all were brought back and got their salaries that MLB Trade Rumors has for them they would make a combined $18,200,000. Here’s the break down:
|Player||Pos||2019 Salary||2020 Projection||Difference|
With a sub-$1,000,000 number for Matt Bowman, he may be safe. The raise isn’t much, he’s had big league success over the years, and he can provide some depth. The others are tougher to make sense of. Both Peraza and Dietrich struggled to perform for large parts of the year. Gausman performed with the Reds, but that’s a hefty salary for a player they would project to be using out of the bullpen.
What does this mean to the payroll?
There are a few things to play with here. First would be, do the Reds pick up the option on Freddy Galvis or do they pay him $1M for the buyout? From a bookkeeping standpoint, that’s a difference of $4,000,000 (it’s a $4.5M difference for his salary, but we then would just assume the league minimum salary of $575,000-ish would be taken on to replace his roster spot).
With the Reds picking up the Galvis option, and keeping around every player up for arbitration the team would have a payroll of $118M without. If the Reds don’t pick up the Galvis option, but keep everyone else around, the team would have a payroll of $114M without any other moves.
But neither of those scenarios are likely. The odds can’t be great that the team brings back everyone that’s heading to arbitration. Assuming that my “they’ll keep them” group is correct, then the Reds could have a payroll set as low as $96M when they begin to look at free agency or offseason trades. That would be if they didn’t bring back Galvis, Gausman, Dietrich, Peraza, or Bowman.
The Reds have said payroll is going to be higher than the $130M that it was in 2019. They haven’t said just how much higher, though. If the team brings back Peraza and Bowman from the “maybe” group, that would only push the payroll to $99.75M. That still would leave the team with a whole lot of money to spend in free agency. Even a modest uptick in payroll of just $10M would give them $40M to spend in free agency for 2020. If they pushed things further, just keep adding on.