The Cincinnati Reds signed Mike Moustakas to a 4-year deal worth $64M. There’s even an option for a 5th year. And apparently yesterday saw them lose out to the Philadelphia Phillies on signing Zack Wheeler, who wound up getting 5-years and $118M. Clearly the Reds have some money they’re still sitting on and looking to spend.
The big question is, just how much is left. The Cincinnati front office hasn’t said how much they have or are willing to spend. What they have said is that the plan is to have the highest payroll ever. That could be as little as $131M. But anything over that would be a new record high.
What we do know, though, is what the payroll currently looks like for 2020. Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer first reported the breakdown of the Mike Moustakas contract on Wednesday afternoon.
Mike Moustakas' contract, once finalized, includes a club option with #Reds. $12M in '20, $14M in '21, $16M in '22, $18M in '23, $20M club option in '24 or $4M buyout. https://t.co/eZHqhHMBnd
— Bobby Nightengale (@nightengalejr) December 4, 2019
The deal increases each season. But for 2020, we can put together a good idea of what the team has already committed, and try to figure out from there how much money could possibly be remaining. Below are the guaranteed contracts, as well as projected arbitration numbers for those eligible via MLB Trade Rumors.
For ease, I simply applied every player not yet arbitration eligible to one spot. The 2020 minimum salary is $563,500. It’s possible that some players in there will get a little bit more than that. So if you would like to round that number up from $7,325,500 to something like a round $8,000,000 feel free. That still leaves the team just under $115M.
That’s where things sit today. Every reasonable estimation would say that leaves the Reds at least $20M to spend on payroll for 2020. That would put them at $135M for the season. But even to get to just $135M is only a small, minuscule bump to the “highest payroll ever” that the Reds have stated is their plan. If the team has a payroll expectation of $140M for 2020, that would leave them $25M left to spend. If they got wild and crazy and pushed payroll up to $150M for 2020, then they would still have $35M to spend for the 2020 season.
We don’t really know where the top of the bar is for the Reds. They are keeping that to themselves, and understandably. If agents knew exactly how much money they were willing to spend it would give them the ability to just continue to ask for more and more until it’s met. Still, even if Cincinnati is only pushing the payroll up to $135-140M, there’s still a lot of money remaining that they can put towards adding talent for 2020 (and beyond).