Not sure why, but I spent way too much time yesterday (at work, yikes) diving into arbitration rules and specifically the dreaded Super Two.
With the Edwin signing, I wondered how much payroll flex the Reds have in the coming years. When does our youth core become an expensive not-so-young core?
I've kept a spreadsheet of the Reds payroll for a few years now, to be able to speak intelligently about offseason ideas etc. (Geeky, my wife tells me. I know.) I've had some guesses as to when some players enter arbitration years. That seemed too unscientific, so I finally jumped into service time, to really know or more intelligently guess on the arbitration years for the young'uns.
Here are some things I found that seemed interesting to me:
1) Obviously Edwin was the only young arbitration situation this year. (Weathers being an "old" one.)
2) For the 2010 season, assuming all of these guys stay in the majors this season and add a full year of service time, the following are first time arbitration eligible:
- and possibly Owings
3) Yes, Owings *could* potentially be a Super Two next year. He's at 1 year and 139 days (aka 1.139) of ST right now. Assuming he stays with the big league club all year in some capacity, he'll be at 2.139 next year this time. The magic number for determing Super Two is historically somewhere between 2.125 and 2.140, representing the top 17 percent of service time for players between two and three years of ST. This year's crop of Super Twos are all between 2.140 and 2.158. So Owings is "under" that by a smidge. But who knows where the magic number will be next year? Suffice it to say, it will be close.
4) In addition to the above mentioned group, in 2011, the Reds add a ton more players to that arbitration mix:
- Edwin (yesterday's contract goes 2009-10)
- Owings (either for the first or second time)
- and possibly Bruce
5) Yes, Bruce *could* potentially be a Super Two for the 2011 season. They didn't call him up until May 27 intentionally for the Super Two issue. Right now, that puts him at .125 ST. Assuming he stays in the majors this and next season, he would be at 2.125. That's way low on the scale of Super Two magic number cut-off. But it's possible. One also wonders if more clubs are waiting longer, meaning that the magic number will creep lower and lower each year?
That's 8-9 arb cases for 2011. Clearly we know there could be LTCs signed for any of these guys. Which is kinda the point of this research. When should the Reds hunker down and make some deals? You see other clubs doing it. Is that the smart play? Give (for instance) Volquez, Cueto, Bruce and Votto a little more money for their non-arb years in exchange for less during their arb years? What's Walt's track record with this?
6) Switching back to next season: the Reds have 3 option players for 2010. Hernandez (8.5 mill, club), AGon (6 mill, mutual) and Weathers (3.7 mill, club). That's 18.2 mill total. They have 8 players under contract for 2010, worth 56.5 mill. That and those 3-4 arb cases (mentioned in point two above). Plus 6-7 guys who almost assuredly will have roles who will make league min. Some editorializing: I seriously doubt the Reds will consider any of those options for more than two seconds. So between the contracts and league minimum guys you can pencil onto the team right now, that's just under $60 mill for 14-15 guys.
Is it me or does that seem to be not a lot of payroll flex?
Depending on the budget (which could be anywhere from $70-80), that's $10-20 mill to spend to get a catcher, shortstop, possibly a left-fielder and pay the arb guys.
7) I know I know... this is too early to talk about 2010, since the team is still forming for 2009. But I think fans and certainly the Reds brass need to take a long term view of this team, to make informed decisions this season. Do you look at the picture I painted and decide the Reds should trade someone like Arroyo to a team who loses a starter in the spring, knowing they have roto depth for the first time in a while and knowing they need more payroll flex next offseason?
Or do you look at all that and say, that's a pretty lovely picture. Hanigan can step into the starting catching duty next year. That's a league min guy replacing a big contract. Maybe Dickerson shows he can take over LF. Maybe we got some arms on the farm that can replace Weathers at league min. There's some savings. $10-20 is plenty to spend on the team needs next year!
So much to digest. Sorry.
But I do believe you have to look down the road a bit to make good decisions on the short term too. And the Super Two stuff wasn't anything I'd seen in print, so I thought it might be good to throw that on the table for debate/consumption.
Have at it, Reds fans.