Sunday, January 15, 2012

Resop Signed During the Doldrums

The Bucs have been taking their time in dealing with their arb-eligible players. First, they thinned the herd by releasing Ross Ohlendorf, Steve Pearce and Brandon Wood, with Pearce inking a deal with the Twins and Wood with the Rockies. Then they shipped Jose Veras to the Brewers for Casey McGehee, a wash as both were in their arbitration years.

They signed Jason Grilli to a one year, $1.1M deal early on and just this week doubled Chris Resop's salary by giving him a one year, $850K contract. Both deserved a deal. Grilli, 35, went 2-1 in 28 outings with a 2.48 ERA and a save. Resop, 29, put together a 5-4 record with a 4.38 ERA and pitched better than his line, which was marred by a brutal July. Both averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings, a clutch bullet to have in a reliever's arsenal.

That leaves Joel Hanrahan, Garrett Jones, Jeff Karstens, Casey McGehee, Evan Meek and Charlie Morton remaining to get under contract. Except for Meek, who missed most of last season with shoulder tendinitis, the cost should be between $2-4M for the remaining guys.

The group posted individual 2011 WARs in the 1-2 range (1 WAR = $4.5M market value) except for McGehee, but he has 2.0 and 3.3 WAR years in 2009-10 to buttress his value against his 2011 downer. While inexact, the rule of thumb is that a first year player is worth 40% of his WAR, a second year player 60%, and a third year player 80%.

Four of the players are in their first year of eligibility, while Hanrahan and Karstens are in their second. WAR, of course, isn't the end-all; past performance, comparable players statistically and prior contracts all factor into the equation.

Historically, the Bucs have taken care of business without an arbitration hearing. The current FO has gone the limit just once, losing to Ohlie last season, and before that the last case to go before arbitrators was in 2004, when Jack Splat Wilson beat Dave Littlefield and company. No wonder they try to sign players; they don't seem to do so well in front of a panel.

It will be an interesting Tuesday, when the team and players trade their salary offers (they filed for arb on Friday). That gives both parties a jumping-off point, and we'd expect the pace to pick up soon after. There's enough time to get the deals done, as the hearings run from February 1st-21st.

The FO is taking it a little slowly, as the arb agreements could add $16M or so to the 2012 payroll, a big hunk of change by Bucco standards. The 40-man salary hit this year looks to be in the $45M range, with another couple of million blown on buy-outs, a bit of an increase from the $42M spent last year, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts, and near 2008-09 levels.

This is a "tip of the iceberg" season. Hanny and JK will be entering their third years of arb in 2013, while the rest of the gang will be in their second. McCutch, J-Mac and the Pittsburgh Kid will all join their ranks next season, too. The Bucco youth movement will start hitting Bob Nutting's wallet in earnest then. 

  • Rob Biertempfel of the Trib reported that Charlie Morton, recovering from hip surgery, is cautiously optimistic that he'll be ready to go on Opening Day.
  • Paul Maholm's next appearance at PNC Park will be in a Cubby uniform. The lefty signed a one year, $4.75M deal with Chicago that included an option for 2013. Sure a far cry from the $9.75M option the Pirates declined, hey?
  • The Bucs signed another lefty reliever to a minor league deal when they inked Chris Slaten, 31, who worked for the Nats last season, losing half the season to an elbow injury. Slaten is a LOOGY.
  • We're hopeful that the Pirates haven't given up on pitching yet. There are still quite a few guys on the market who could upgrade the rotation, and as the weeks until camp tick away, maybe the price will be right for the Bucs to add an arm, ala Eric Bedard. The question is whether the FO is willing to cross the $50M payroll line this year - and that hasn't happened since 2003.
  • Derrek Lee, along with Casey Kotchman and Carlos Pena, remain unsigned; the drawn-out Prince Fielder dance has them all on hold. Chris Snyder may have overestimated his market value, too.

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