Arbitration projections for Rays have some surprises
Estimating the salaries for arbitration eligible players is a key part of the budgeting process for the Rays and other teams, and a tricky one since many aren't settled until January and ones that go to a hearing not until February.
And with 13 players eligible - third most in the majors - the total dollars allocated will have a major impact on the Rays in 2018, based on how much the Rays have to pay these players, or if they opt to instead trade or dump them, especially with principal owner Stuart Sternberg saying the payroll is coming down from the near $80-million they ended the year at. It's pretty safe to assume all 13 won't be back, as their total salaries last year were about $23.4-million and in 2018 based on these projections would be $41.4-million.
Though arbitration salaries are determined primarily based on facts - comparisons to other players with similar service time and statistics - predicting them can be very much an inexact science.
The crew at mlbtraderumors.com has become pretty good at it, and the projections they posted this week seemed both good and for the Rays, potentially in terms of keeping SS Adeiny Hechavarria and shopping RHP Alex Colome and DH/OF Corey Dickerson.
Here's a quick breakdown, with 2017 salaries in parentheses, and some initial thoughts:
Higher than expected
RHP Alex Colome, $5.5-million ($547,900)
Hefty hike in his first year of arbitration eligibility, which seems to validate the value of that high-leverage work and majors-leading 47 saves. Fair to wonder if being renewed by Rays last year factors into thought process on his side.
OF/DH Corey Dickerson, $6.4-million ($3,025,000)
If his season was reversed, with a bad first half and strong finish, this might not seem so high. But given the way he dropped off after making the All-Star team, it seems a lot to more than double his salary.
Lower than expected
SS Adeiny Hechavarria. $5-million ($4,350,000)
No questioning the value he added with his sure-handed defense, but players don't yet tend to get rewarded as much in arbitration for their glove work. Some in the industry pegged him for $6-million-plus.
2B Brad Miller, $4.4-million ($3,575,000)
Obviously had a bad year, but even players with bad years tend to get bigger raises, so this could help the Rays in dealing Miller, or in betting on a bounce back.
About as expected
RHP Jake Odorizzi, $6.5-million ($4,100,000)
Maybe not as bad a season overall as it seemed in segments due to injuries and inconsistencies, and apparently enough good in there to maintain the salary track that rewards starting pitchers well, and likely leads to a trade. (He seems on a similar path as Drew Smyly, who was traded last off-season.)
OF Steven Souza Jr., $3.6-million ($546,700)
Another first-time eligible player gets rewarded well, and somewhat in line with his performance that earned him team MVP honors. His jump is similar what Dickerson and Miller got last year as first-time eligibles.
And the others
RHP Brad Boxberger, $1.9-million ($1,600,000)
Lack of innings due to injury, and performance, keep him down.
LHP Xavier Cedeno, $1.4-million ($1,300,000)
Token raise for reliever who missed most of season, and wasn't all that good when he pitched.
INF Matt Duffy, $900,000 ($545,300)
Yes, you're right, he didn't play at all this season. But sometimes it's all about the comps.
LHP Dan Jennings, $2.5-million ($1,400,000)
Didn't have the impact Rays were hoping, and overall between Chicago and Tampa Bay allowed 85 baserunners in 62 2/3 innings, but those 77 appearances (most in majors for a lefty) count for something.
C Jesus Sucre, $1.3-million ($630,000)
About the going rate for veteran backups, and he was solid.
RHP Shawn Tolleson, $1-million ($1,000,000)
Rays gambled and lost as he never was fully healthy in spring training and then ended up having Tommy John surgery which will keep him out until late in 2018. Expect him to be dropped from roster.
RHP Chase Whitley, $1-million ($535,000)
Provided some length out of bullpen, which has value to some teams.