When a team has a lot of young, cost-controlled players for as long as the Dodgers have, there will be a time to pay up. It looks like this offseason may be that time.
MLB Trade Rumors, via Matt Schwartz, released salary arbitration projections/predictions for all 30 MLB clubs. The Dodgers have nine arbitration-eligible players this winter and it is as follows (service time in parenthesis in the form of years.days):
- Yasmani Grandal (5.115) – $7.7 million
- Luis Avilan (4.146) – $2.3 million
- Alex Wood (4.123) – $6.4 million
- Tony Cingrani (4.088) – $2.2 million
- Josh Fields (3.162) – $2.2 million
- Pedro Baez (3.059) – $1.5 million
- Enrique Hernandez (3.054) – $1.3 million
- Joc Pederson (3.022) – $2 million
- Yimi Garcia (3.004) – $700,000
Some guys are in line for big raises, and all nine of the players are locks to be tendered contracts — even Garcia, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery — because the financial commitment is so minimal.
The raises for some should be significant, starting with Wood. His salary could jump almost $4 million after a stellar 2017 season. Grandal’s salary is projected to increase by more than $2 million, and Pederson’s could increase by more than $1.5 million. Oh, and everyone’s favorite Mr. Baez is projected to earn an extra million bucks whether you like it or not. As a group, these players will make $11.42 million more than they did last season. That’s a significant increase. And while these numbers up top aren’t 100 percent accurate, they’ll end up being damn close.
The total of the above salaries is $26.3 million, so plan on at least $25 million committed to arb-eligible players. It may not end up being that amount due to contract agreements and/or potential trades. In fact, I’ll stop just short guaranteeing that. The Dodgers had eight arbitration-eligible players this season who ended up totaling nearly $13.5 million. Almost doubling that amount for a team that is looking to reset the luxury tax means there could be some cost-cutting measures to be taken.
The magic number for this offseason is $197 million. With a lot of money coming off the books (Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and others) and not a lot of big free agents this winter, the Dodgers could, conceivably, get under that threshold ahead of the massive 2018-19 free agent class. If they wait until after the 2018 season to reset it, the luxury tax number will go up to $206 million, and the Dodgers will have even more money coming off the books in the form of a Clayton Kershaw opt-out and Adrian Gonzalez‘s contract expiring. There are some generational free-agent talents available next winter — Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, just to name a couple — so it’s going to be interesting to see what Andrew Friedman, Farhan Zaidi and Co., do with the payroll situation before then.
For now, these nine players will be tendered deals or agree to different contracts, but don’t expect all nine to play for the Dodgers in 2018.