MLB Trade Rumors has been outstanding over the last few years when it comes to accurately estimating arbitration numbers for the next season. But the 2020 Major League Baseball season being just 60 games seems like it could very well throw a wrench into the equation that’s been used in the past because the numbers simply don’t work due to the amount of playing time given to anyone. For that reason, Matt Swartz – the man who created the model they used – altered the projection raises to reflect different scenarios that could be used for arbitration.

The Cincinnati Reds have nine players that are due to hit arbitration this offseason and are due raises: Brian Goodwin, Curt Casali, Luis Castillo, Amir Garrett, Michael Lorenzen, Robert Stephenson, Jesse Winker, and Archie Bradley.

Swartz three methods look at how things would go for actual stats in just a 60-game schedule, a method that projects the 60-game schedule stats over a 162-game schedule, and then ” For non-first-time eligibles, finds the raise they’d get in a 162 game season, then gives them 37% of that raise”. It’s also worth noting that just because someone is arbitration eligible does not mean that they will get that raise. Teams can simply non-tender a player, which is essentially a fancy way of saying they are releasing a player, and that player will then become a free agent. Expect a lot of this to happen before the December 2nd deadline – though it seems highly unlikely that it will happen with any of the players for the Cincinnati Reds.

So, what are the projected numbers for the nine Cincinnati Reds players that are arbitration eligible? Let’s take a look:

Player Method 1 Method 2 Method 3
Brian Goodwin $2.7M $3.6M $2.6M
Curt Casali $2M $2.4M $1.8M
Luis Castillo $3M $5.8M $3M
Amir Garrett $900K $1.4M $900K
Michael Lorenzen $3.8M $4.4M $4M
Tyler Mahle $1.5M $2.5M $1.5M
Robert Stephenson $600K $600K $600K
Jesse Winker $2M $3.4M $2M
Archie Bradley $4.3M $5.7M $4.7M

The three methods are going to give different numbers. I’d personally be surprised if method 1 were the one we ultimately ended up with, but I’ve been wrong plenty of times before. The difference between Method 1 and Method 3 are pretty small, just $300,000 difference total. But the difference between those two and Method 2 is about $9,000,000. That’s a little bit of change that could, in theory, be the difference between signing a quality starting caliber player/pitcher and not being able to do so.

Essentially, depending on how Major League Baseball’s arbitration process plays out this offseason, there’s $20-30M in payroll due to these nine players. Joey Votto, Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Eugenio Suárez, Sonny Gray, Raisel Iglesias, Wade Miley, Shogo Akiyama, and Tucker Barnhart are all locked in with contracts totaling another $101,375,000 for the 2021 season.

If we assume no trades of any players mentioned thus far, that puts the Cincinnati Reds estimated payroll between $126,000,000 and $136,000,000 if they make no moves to add and free agents or trades to acquire players who have reached arbitration/have signed contracts that pay them more than league minimum.

With the 2020 season that involved no fans in the stands to buy tickets, merchandise, pay for parking at team owned/operated parking structures – revenues were down in the sport. How ownership groups across the baseball world will go about free agency, and even trades this offseason will be interesting to see. Some teams are certainly going to feel the pinch a bit differently than others. Those who get a larger portion of their revenues from multimedia deals than others may feel the pinch less than teams who have a higher portion of their revenue derived from ticket sales.

We are all just guessing where each team falls in the breakdown of that kind of information. But the circumstances of it all leaves everyone with a big “shrug” when it comes to how teams are expected to act this offseason. The Reds certainly should be looking to upgrade their offense where they can after it struggled to find any sort of consistency in 2020. How much money will be available to do so is a big question, and unfortunately for now, we don’t really have an answer as to what the kind of payroll that Cincinnati is going to set.

29 Responses

  1. Charlie Waffles

    Whew, that is $126MM to $136MM without Trevor Bauer. Without making a trade or 2 or 3, there isn’t much the Reds can do to make some budget room. A new President of Baseball Ops has a lot to chew on right from the get-go whenever one is hired. I like to think the delay of any news on candidates is because the targeted person still has a team in the playoffs (i.e Tampa Bay).
    If Tyler Stephenson is in the plans for 2021 Opening Day, then one of Barnhart or Casali is gone. More likely by trade than a non-tender to Casali. That will shave off a little salary savings there. Since TStephenson is a RH hitter, and with Bell’s logic of his R-L mold, that would put Casali on the block. I can’t envision a third C as the 26th man with Farmer on the roster.
    Goodwin hopefully isn’t being considered for a 26-man roster spot next season. If he can’t be traded by Dec. 2, then non-tender him. That will save a little more.
    The other roster elephant in the room on that list of 9 arbitration eligible players is RHP Robert Stephenson. He may be in the same boat as Goodwin, if you can’t trade him be Dec. 2, then non-tender. I can easily see a non-tender in his future before the deadline of Dec. 2. His trade value, even in a package, would be small. And any savings on his salary would also be small potatoes. That being said, I can also see where the Reds could give him one more chance to get it going in the spring.
    Out of that group of 9 players under contract for 2021, I think it is a 50-50 chance that Barnhart gets traded. Barnhart and Casali, which one stays and which one goes to make room for Tyler Stephenson? And it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for one other of those 9 to be traded too.

    • Michael Smith

      We were thinking about the same three guys. That should shave 5 million off and not miss a beat.

  2. Sliotar

    Good stuff, Doug. Thank you.

    Goodwin and Bradley…under Method 2, $9.3 million if they were retained.
    Bradley may been really hurt at end of season, but $5.7M is pricey for non-closer reliever.

    -Use Goodwin/Bradley/Casali (?) savings to take on Lindor salary for one season?

    -Or as part of a big 1-year deal for Semien or Gregorius, if they don’t like the free agent offers they will get?

    Put every available penny towards fixing SS, and if Castellanos stays …

    Reds might be favorite for the NL Central to start 2021. It’s unlikely to have a 95-win team, maybe not even 90.

    And, the Reds roster is aging quickly … hope front office is still in “go for it” mindset.

  3. Bred

    Would it make sense for the Reds to sign Castillo through the 2025 season? He can be a FA in 2024 at age 31. He’d then hit FA at the age of 32. Control the cost and get one more year out of him. The FO may be reluctant because of Homer’s deal, and I get that, but this deal would not be for that kind of cash. Is he worth the gamble?

    • Michael Smith

      @bred I think that would depend on what he would want. He is going to be worth a lot but I think they are going to be some constraints from ownership.

  4. Klugo

    I bet the St. Louis Cardinals will spend.

  5. Barbara J Sutton

    Godwin, Iglesias, R. Stephenson could go. Iggy chokes in pressure situations. Senzel in Center field. Take s page out of the Rays playbook. The lowest payroll because they get players they can groom, train, teach. Trevor Bauer is a necessity and all else can be worked on with a hitting coach who can actually produce hitters like base hits.

  6. DataDumpster

    In all humility, I am not quite understanding this game. While many people would agree that 3 or 4 of the players are not worth paying to be on the club in any of the pay “methods”, it is stated that it is highly unlikely ANY of the Reds players will be non-tendered. It is also highly unlikely that successful trades will be consummated for those players in the next 6 weeks so the situation seems rather hopeless as presented. I must be missing something.

    • Sliotar

      Just something to toy around with at the start of the long off-season.
      We are “obsessive Reds fans” after all, LOL.

      I come from the point of view that ….

      -SS has to be upgraded significantly for 2021 for the Reds to seriously contend
      -The Reds are unlikely to come in at the same payroll as 2020

      Those 2 thoughts would likely necessitate some bold action.

      It’s Doug’s opinion that the Reds would will tender all of the above guys ….

      IMO, a mid-to-small budget team spending $9.3 million on Goodwin and Bradley isn’t allocating its limited resources wisely. Especially with a black hole at SS.

      • DataDumpster

        Your comment about Goodwin and Bradley was spot on. Those guys were either not needed/not any good/not used correctly. Nice savings even if trade value is low. Winker should be shopped as well. Might bring some interesting possibilities and we already have a lot of big swinging, poor defending outfielders on this team. Play Shogo everyday! Finally, face facts that we are losing Bauer and Disco and Castellanos is staying. Except for shortstop, don’t expect any blockbuster player moves. The only logical expectation for meaningful improvement is for a management change. Fire David Bell.

  7. CoachCox

    Time for iggy to go, Bradley can close. If they keep the dh in national league.Votto should be Dh. Senzel back to infield at 2b and move the moose to 1b. Hopefully castellones leaves so were not stuck with that contract. Winker in left shogo in center. Aquino in right. Pay Bauer with castellones money. Go find a Shortstop at one time they were talking Seager. He would be a good fit at Ss. Then you can shore up bullpen.

    • RedsFaninPitt

      I like what you are saying. If Castellanos stays and there is a DH, I would move Castellanos to 1B, Aquino to RF, Shogo to CF, Winker to LF. Justin Turner is going to be an old free agent at the conclusion of playoffs. I would seek to trade Suarez or Senzel to Dodgers for Seager if the Reds could arrange to negotiate a LT deal for Seager. If the Reds could pay some portion of Votto’s remaining contract over future years in order to unload him and trade Iglesias, maybe they could afford a large 1 yr deal for Bauer. Seager could be the SS until Garcia is ready and then move Seager to 3B.

      • Michael Smith


        Votto has a no trade clause with his 10-5 rights.

        While I really like Seager I am not trading Suarez and his freaking great contract while he is in his prime (he has been a 3.5-4 war guy the previous three years and I am not going to base much off a 60 game schedule) for Seager who is in his last year of arbitration, will end up costing about the same and I am not going to assume that he is going to sign a long term deal with a team that he is traded too until it happens.

  8. RedNat

    Legally the reds can now have fans in the stands based ohio state law. It maybe less than full capacity but they can have fans. I promise you the Cubs, brewers and possibly the pirates will play in front of empty stadiums in 2021. I hope the reds can take advantage.

    I understand ticket prices may be higher next year but I hope not inordinately high.

    • Doc

      Since they were seldom full last year, this should not be a big limitation!

      I give Garcia the inside track at SS. Wouldn’t that be the Tampa Bay way?

    • JayTheRed

      At this point we are at the start of the fall season and Covid Numbers are ballooning up fast. 7 states reported record highs this week and more than once for single day new cases 30 something states reported increases in cases over the previous 2 weeks according to CNN. I am hoping things are more calm next spring but right now it could be anyone’s guess where we are next spring on cases.

      I am predicting it now we will have a shortened season again next year. Might not be as short as 60 games but I just don’t have any faith it will be 162.

  9. Kevin Patrick

    Honestly, Its hard for me to imagine the Reds not keeping almost everyone and trying again minus Bauer and Desclafani. That doesn’t sound very exciting. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Reds try to trade a youngish outfielder that we value to try and get another starter via trade. They wouldn’t get value in pitching for this coming year giving up Goodwin or Akiyama I think. The Reds can’t hand starting shortstop to Garcia yet… if the Reds don’t make a move there, I think we’ll see a lot of Farmer at short good or bad…which makes the middle defense only so so. I wonder whether the front office might do the unthinkable and move Suarez for salary flexibility to fill some holes. That wouldn’t look good.

    • JayTheRed

      Akiyama isn’t going anywhere. It would be a huge shock if he did. Suarez isn’t going anywhere either. His deal is too team friendly. Anyone moving over there would be a downgrade big time.

  10. GreatRedLegsFan

    It’s very sad, but as long as Votto is in the payroll there’s very little room for roster moves, so get ready to see about the same players in the field next season.

  11. Frankie Tomatoes

    Maybe the owners of the team worth more than a billion dollars should just spend more money.

  12. RedsFaninPitt

    Michael Smith – Votto wants to win probably more than anything. What better place to go than to the Dodgers? If you could trade he and Suarez to Dodgers (the Reds would have to agree to pay an increasing amount of his contract over the next 4 yrs in order for the Dodgers to agree). This would give the Reds payroll space to sign big one yr deal for Bauer for 2021 and have payroll space freed up to pay Votto’s remaining contract as Wiley, Shogo, possibly Castellanos and Moustakas’ contracts gradually end and you have players like India, Siani, Greene, Hendricks and perhaps others ready to take their place. Seager > Suarez mostly since he can play SS. The Dodgers would have to think that Lux is ready to take over at SS and that Muncy can play 2B all season.

    • Michael Smith


      Well now you are tossing him to the dodger who have no place to play him since they have younger and better options. Not knocking the creativity with your idea, just not realistic imo.

      Also I am not sure the dodgers are going to be adding salary. For 2021 they are already at 143 million for 9 players. 6 more guys are arb 1-3. Bellinger would have ben 11.5 million this year (not going down in cost), Seager 7.6 millon (not going down in cost), and Buehler and Urias will be be arb 1 with strong cases for a good A1 salary. I think Bellinger and Seager (if they cant unload him) will be around 25 million and the other two somewhere between 5-10 million. So we are up to 170-180 million. The other 13 guys will cost them at minimum 8 million.

      Sorry this is long winded but the moral of the story is they do not like to go to the luxury tax (210 million next year and taking on 20 something million a year between Votto and Suarez is not likely to happen.

      And more rambling by me. I do see a spot for suarez since they have Taylor at 2nd and Lux would slide to SS.

  13. RedNat

    I just hope that baseball doesn’t become tennis or golf where it’s inordinately expensive to go to a game. I personally wouldn’t mind a lower payroll and cheaper tickets than a higher payroll with extremely expensive tickets.

  14. Jim t

    How many years does Votto have left on his deal?

    • Doug Gray

      Deal goes through at least 2023. There’s a $7M buyout on a $20M deal for 2024.

  15. TR

    Two of the biggest items on the Red’s 2021 payroll should be the attempt to keep Trevor Bauer with the Reds, and the hiring of a Pres. of Operations to replace Dick Williams, hopefully from the Tampa Bay Rays, to get the Red’s organization on a new direction beyond the Red’s Family.

  16. DataDumpster

    Good article today in the Enquirer about the Red’s 2020 offensive woes. Read about in depth all the sorry batting statistics and management’s “explanation” of the problems. Is the fact that the Red’s offensive woes and string of bad luck started precisely at the time David Bell took over and replaced the previous hitting coach and approach relevant? Is the historically bad BABIP somewhat related to the fact that most of the Red’s lineup has the speed of a catcher on the base paths? Noting that the veterans did not have adequate time to prepare for the season overlook the fact that all others teams had the same circumstance?

    Now, let me reference the insightful analysis and expertise of their manager David Bell about this situation.
    “We were able to walk quite a bit, more than we singled, which is amazing. Where we came up short is stringing together hits at times during the season. Why did that happen for us?”

    The average fan in the stands notes that walks, while good, are less amazing than hits because there is very rarely a chance for the batter or runners to advance more than one base on such a play. Yes, you came up short stringing together hits, might have something to do with the lowest BA in 110 years and the BB, K, and HR approach you have championed. Regarding the “why us” comment, are you really that clueless?