Monday, July 18, 2011

A Look At the Future - Contracts

Hey, we're all caught up in Bucco fever; the issues that dominated the off-season like payroll have taken a back seat to a pennant race.

But all those young pups the Pirates have on their roster are growing up fast, and with that comes some digging into the corporate pockets; this year's payroll is estimated at around $45M. Here's a look at the Pittsburgh players' and their current contract value, in parenthesis, along with the status of players for 2012 (from Cot's Baseball Contracts):

Free Agents:
Lyle Overbay ($5M)
Joe Beimel ($1.75M)

Say goodbye to $6.75M coming off the books.

Club Options:
Chris Snyder ($6.25M) - $6.75M option w/$750K buyout
Ryan Doumit ($5.2M) - $7.25M option 2012 & $8.25M option in 2013 w/$500K buyout (both must be exercised after this season)
Ronny Cedeno ($1.85M) - $3M option w/$200K buyout
Paul Maholm ($6.25M) - $9.75M option w/$750K buyout.

With Tony Sanchez moving slowly, the Bucs may keep one of the catchers around for 2012 as it may be cheaper than finding someone on the market. That's a big if, though, because of both financial and health reasons. Based on his his first half work, Cedeno is likely to return. If Maholm isn't traded, the FO may work out an extension with him, probably in the three-year, $21-24M range. If the Bucs don't pick up the Snyder-Doumit-Maholm options, it'll cost them $2M in buy-out fees, which still gives them almost $16M in 2011 salary ($23.75M in 2012 salary) to replace them.

Guaranteed Through 2012:
Kevin Correia ($4M) - $4M in 2012
Matt Diaz ($2.125M) - $2.125M in 2012
Pedro Alvarez ($2.05M) - $2.2M in 2012, club option 2013.

KC and Pedro will be back, and probably Diaz, too, although the Pirate outfield is a crowded place right now.

Second Year Arbitration-Eligible:
Ross Ohlendorf ($2.025M)
Joel Hanrahan ($1.4M)
Jeff Karstens ($1.1M)
Jose Veras ($1M)

Hanrahan and Karstens are due for big raises, and we think they'll try to sign the whole group. Veras is the biggest question mark to return. He's been effective, but the brass has a history of turning over the bullpen.

First Year Arbitration-Eligible:
Evan Meek ($461,500)
Garrett Jones ($455,500)
Andrew McCutchen ($452,500)
Charlie Morton ($441,000)
Chris Resop ($431,500)
Steve Pearce ($427,000)
Jason Jaramillo ($442,500)
Brandon Wood ($420,000)

Jones may not be around long enough to sign; he's been mentioned as trade bait a couple of times. JJ and Wood are on thin ice and out of options. They should work out deals for Morton, Resop, Pearce and Meek, and we'd be surprised if they didn't iron out a long-term contract with McCutch in the off-season.

Pre-Arbitration (first potential arbitration-eligible year):
James McDonald (2013)
Neil Walker (2013)
Jose Tabata (2013-14, depending on Super Two cut-off)
Xavier Paul (2013)
Daniel McCutchen (2014)
Mike McKenry (2014)
Alex Presley (2014)
Tony Watson (2014)

No problems here. This group is locked into minimum wage for a season or two before arbitration rears its costly head.

What this will end up costing the Pirates next year is still in flux. What will the FO do with Dewey and Snyder, who hold $14M in 2012 options? How about Maholm and his $9.75M? Those are the three biggest contracts the Pirates hold.

If those three guys aren't back next season, along with Overbay and Beimel, the Pirates wipe $22M in 2011 salary off their books. There's a chance they could negotiate a new deal with Maholm and they'll have to find a first-team catcher somewhere, either from the pair they have or on the marketplace.

Correia, Diaz and Alvarez will be owed $8.35M in 2012. If they pick up Cedeno's contract, add another $3M to the kitty. Hanny, Karstens and Morton are all due big raises. McCutch will start making his money, too, either through arbitration or a deal.

But we don't foresee a major bump in the payroll next season; they'll still be a young and affordable team with just a handful of bigger contracts. The flexibility to add on is available, which should make this year's trading deadline action and the winter hot stove period a lot more interesting.

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