The Cincinnati Reds will take the field in Great American Ball Park for Opening Day in less than a week. While the final Opening Day roster has yet to be finalized, several significant moves and developments have been announced in recent days that gives us the parameters needed to begin to estimate what the team's payroll will look like for this upcoming season.
What's listed below is not a comprehensive, multi-year look into the team's complete finances, but it should provide a pretty complete reference to what the Reds will be shelling out for the active roster that will likely be in place this time on Monday. Of course, the fickle baseball gods will probably announce that the Reds have made a significant signing just minutes after this that will thereby render this irrelevant, but that's just a risk we'll have to take.
[UPDATED: The Reds announced that they'd claimed IF Scooter Gennett and his $2.53 million salary for 2017 within minutes of this publishing (of course), so the overall numbers here have been updated to include that. What the actual hell, fickle baseball gods?!]
To the numbers...
Guaranteed Contracts for 2017
- Joey Votto - $22 million
- Homer Bailey - $12 million
- Devin Mesoraco - $7.2 million
- Zack Cozart - $5.325 million
- Raisel Iglesias - $3.5 million
- Drew Storen - $3 million
- Billy Hamilton - $2.625 million
- Scooter Gennett - $2.53 million
- Scott Feldman - $2.3 million
- Tony Cingrani - $1.825 million
- Desmond Jennings - $1.5 million
- Blake Wood - $1.275 million
Total: $65.08 million
All things point to these 12 players being the lone Reds with guaranteed dollar amounts significantly above the league minimum. I've included the amount Desmond Jennings will make if the Reds choose to select his contract and place him on the active roster, since all evidence points to him making the team. Feldman's contract includes several complicated performance bonuses for both games started and relief appearances that could bump his overall pay up some $2 million. Similarly, Storen's deal includes performance bonuses that could add over $1 million to his contract.
MLB Minimum Salaries (within range of $535,000)
- Tucker Barnhart
- Jose Peraza
- Eugenio Suarez
- Arismendy Alcantara
- Stuart Turner
- Adam Duvall
- Scott Schebler
- Bronson Arroyo
- Cody Reed
- Robert Stephenson
- Wandy Peralta
- Michael Lorenzen
- Nefi Ogando
Total: $6.955 million
These names aren't necessarily the ones you'll find filling out the entire active 25-man roster on Opening Day, I know. You could swap Barrett Astin in for Nefi Ogando, or Rookie Davis in for Robert Stephenson, and you'd probably have a great chance of being accurate. From an accounting perspective, however, it matters not, since all of the theoretical options here are pre-arb players who will be making at or around league minimum (since some teams choose to give small bonuses to second or third year players who still haven't reached arbitration eligibility).
The lone caveats here sit with Arroyo, whose contract might actually pay him more than league minimum despite him signing "whatever they put in front of [him]" just to return, and Louis Coleman, the veteran reliever who would likely make something in the $800,000 - $900,000 range if he actually makes the team.
- Brandon Phillips - $13 million
When the Reds agreed to send Phillips to the Atlanta Braves for Andrew McKirahan and Carlos Portuondo, part of the deal included the Reds paying all but $1 million of BP's $14 million salary for the 2017 season. Ouch.
Total: $13 million
The Devil in the Details
First and foremost, Cot's Contracts from Baseball Prospectus is (and has always been) a spot-on clearinghouse site for all contract details, and is where this information was largely gathered. It's important to note, however, that since the nature of how baseball contracts are signed and paid out is quite complicated and variable, the way Cot's establishes baselines is important to clear up.
Their first and most primary caveat:
Opening Day payrolls include salaries and pro-rated signing bonuses for players on active roster and disabled list, as well as guaranteed salaries to be earned that season by players no longer on the roster. Deferred payments and performance or award bonuses are not included.
For Cincinnati this year, that lops off $7 million from the the would-be Opening Day payroll, since Homer Bailey won't receive that amount until November of this season. He'll make $19 million this year, but only $12 million this season, and that's the distinction.
Cot's circles back and includes year-end payrolls, however, which will have that amount included once this 2017 season wraps. It'll also include the money made by additional non-active-roster players who get called up and receive big-league salaries, the ledger after any and all trades are made, any additional signings the team could make, and any big-league roster signing bonuses given to players mid-year (such as through the draft, should they agree to a big-league deal from the start like, say, Anthony Rendon did.)
Estimated 2017 Opening Day Payroll - $85.04 million
The Cincinnati Reds will have an estimated Opening Day payroll of just over $85 million in 2017, down from the $89.9 million mark from 2016 and well off the team record $115.4 million mark from 2015.
To be clear, that's a product of the many moves they have made as much as it is based on profits and revenue. Could the Reds sign a player asking for, say, $8-10 million in salary for this year? I'm inclined to say that the funds for such a move are absolutely there. However, signing a 2B to that money would block Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera, for instance, and at this point in time the team is more interested in finding the right players for the future than they are about spending every available dollar on the 2017 payroll.
And there's the other point of emphasis. That money may well be available, but if the Reds are going to spend it at the moment, they're going to spend it on the future, not on 2017. That's been shown largely in their willingness to invest in international players in the last calendar year, adding the likes of Alfredo Rodriguez and Vladimir Gutierrez out of Cuba for a taxed overall cost of some $15 million. Neither that number nor the $12+ million they spent on the draft - part of their league-high 2016 bonus pool allotment - is reflected in this particular payroll, nor will the amount they get to spend in 2017.
In other words, the $85.04 million they're spending on payroll is one significant amount, but if you're the type that wants to scream "small market" and "THE REDS HAVE NO MONEY AND ARE TALKING TO NO ONE," well, cite an amount significantly larger than that, since there are ample millions being spent in ways that just don't fall under the 'payroll' umbrella.