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Five Reds set for hefty raises through arbitration process

At least five, that is.

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MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Scooter Gennett, Billy Hamilton, Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, and Eugenio Suarez combined to make roughly $6.875 million combined in salary during the 2017 season. Barring trades (and assuming DeSclafani is finally healthy), all five figure to play significant roles again for the Cincinnati Reds in 2018, too - though this time, they’ll cost the club quite a bit more.

MLB Trade Rumors released their estimates for all arbitration eligible players yesterday, and their rather exacting model has those five combining to earn $18 million combined in 2018. Gennett and Hamilton, both in their second years of arbitration eligibility, project to be the largest earners of the group at salaries of $6.1 and $5.0 million, respectively. Suarez, arb-eligible for the first time off a stellar 2017 season, checks in at $4.4 million. Lorenzen ($1.4 million) and DeSclafani ($1.1 million), both also eligible for the first time, round out the bunch.

All told, that’s a fairly predictable total, and fits in-line with the estimates we made back in late August during our look at the team’s overall payroll obligations heading into the 2018 season. Back then, our total estimate for those five came to $17.8 million, part of an overall $21.4 million estimate for all the arbitration-eligible players who were on the roster at that time. Of course, there’s a little bit of variance on the individual salaries, as there likely will be between the Reds’ initial offers and what the players themselves first ask. (Since that was published, Tucker Barnhart agreed to a 4-year contract extension to get lopped off the list, and Blake Wood was DFA’d and picked up by Los Angeles Angels.)

The one unknown in this scenario is Raisel Iglesias, however, as he’s currently on a contract that will guarantee him a $4.5 million salary for 2018. That contract, though, includes the ability for him to forfeit that amount and opt into the arbitration process should he so prefer, a decision that The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan looked at in detail just two weeks ago. As Buchanan noted at the time, it’s unlikely that Iglesias will opt-out of his guaranteed contract since the arbitration projections over the same time span don’t look to be much different than his current deal, and would also come without a multi-year guarantee.

With those arbitration estimates in-line with the ones we settled on previously (and Barnhart’s guaranteed $4 million salary for next year), that will leave the Reds with an estimated payroll of just over $93 million for 2018, albeit with the obvious caveat that there will be plenty of moving and shaking on the roster between now and when the 2018 season begins. Considering the franchise ran payrolls in the $115 million range as recently as 2013 and 2014, that would suggest that there’s some wiggle room to make some significant additions as the club begins to evolve from the years-long rebuild into a legitimate division contender once more.