The Major League Baseball salary structure operates in a pretty straightforward, simple fashion, at least until you hit the evolving beast that is free agency. Young, inexperienced players make league minimum for about three years, and if they’ve been good enough to stick around to year four, they’ll be due a raise. The better they’ve been, the better the raise, and thus the recurring arbitration system takes place each year until they’re either booted to the side or reach free agency.
Two parts of that become pertinent: you have to be very good to get paid very well in those years, and teams that have those kinds of players can see their payroll vary wildly from year to year in the process. It must be noted, though, that having those kinds of players is inherently good for a club of any market size, though, since by definition it means they’re pretty damn good baseballers.
Such is the case for the 2020 Cincinnati Reds at the moment, especially as they enter an offseason where they’ve emphasized repeatedly the need to win, win big, and make a postseason run. That usually takes dollar infusions, too, and the Reds seem to be on-board with that, too. We explored the general concept a bit over a week ago, actually, but since that time the crew at MLB Trade Rumors has published their well-calculated arbitration estimates for the 2020 season, so we thought it wise to circle back on our very-less-scientific guesses as an addendum to our still-pertinent previous article.
Topping the list of arb-eligible players in Trevor Bauer, who MLBTR has pegged at some $18.6 million for 2020. We guesstimated $18 million, so we’re not completely bogus yet.
Next up is Kevin Gausman at $10.6 million. We suggested a ‘slight raise’ on his $9.35 million 2019 salary, but noted that that was more likely than not to result in a non-tender this winter. Again, we’re not completely bonkers with this one, with a similar statement with Derek Dietrich, who MLBTR pegs at $3.1 million.
Anthony DeSclafani ($5.2 million) and Michael Lorenzen ($4.5 million) popped in above our guesses of $4.5 million and $3.5 million, respectively, and good for them. I suppose we underestimated biceps’ role in the arbitration room.
Curt Casali, meanwhile, saw a $1.7 million projection from both RR and MLBTR, proving that Vandy knows Vandy in a very Vandy way, I suppose. Matt Bowman checks in at $900K, which is a) probably a very reasonable pickup for the Reds at that price and b) highlights him as someone we initially overlooked in the original article. Sorry, Matt.
That leaves Jose Peraza, who MLBTR has at $3.6 million for his second trip through arbitration (as a Super Two guy). We guessed around ~$3 million for Jose, and expect him to still be tendered despite a poor 2019 thanks to his youth, years of team control, and the fact that he did produce at a decent-enough clip in 2018 to make 2019 potentially be just a dip. Pair that with the lack of real SS depth in the system, and keeping him around one more time seems more reasonable than not, I guess.
As for Scott Schebler, well...
Anyway, we’ll keep our eyes peeled for any further developments on the topic, but on the whole it appears that two things seem set to be true. First, that we are not, in fact, off our rockers with our arb-estimates, and that means our overriding point that the Reds do have money to spend this winter remains the case. Second...well, I actually made both points after I said first, so I apologize for the letdown.