If David Glass decided that the 2015 Kansas City Royals had to cut the payroll and start over again like the 2013 Houston Astros and the 2013 Miami Marlins, one might imagine what the result would look like. The 2013 Astros started with a payroll of around $26M, but managed to whittle that down to about $13M by the end of that season. The 2013 Marlins started with a payroll of around $38M, but cut that to about $24M when the campaign came to its close. What kind of personnel moves would be required in order for the 2015 Kansas City Royals to operate at or about those payroll numbers?
Estimating arbitration figures for next season are anybody's guesses. I will peg Greg Holland at $7M, what Craig Kimbrel is getting this season. I will estimate Eric Hosmer at $4M, giving him a $400K raise similar to that given fellow under-achieving first baseman Ike Davis for a second arbitration. My guess is that anybody earning over a million in arbitration will get somewhere in the range of a $200K raise, so I bump Aaron Crow up to $1.7M and Tim Collins up to $1.6M. Just for hoots and whistles, I reward a $100K raise to those learning less than a million through arbitration, so Brett Hayes is given $700K. Those eligible for first arbitration are going to be wild estimates, since Holland was awarded $4.7M as an arbitration novice, while Hosmer raked in $3.6M. Starting center fielder Lorenzo Cain and rotation fixture Danny Duffy should be the most expensive, but I will only give $2M to each of the two because of their injury histories. To keep Scott Boras happy, Mike Moustakas will be awarded $2M for the purposes of this exercise. Kelvin Herrera could easily earn in 2015 what Crow is getting this year, so I will give Kelvin $1.5M. Jarrod Dyson and Danny Valencia are valuable in their own ways and each should be earning somewhere around the $1.3M that Justin Maxwell was given this year. I award Louis Coleman for next season the $600K that Brett Hayes is earning this year. No arbitration money will be awarded to minor league fellows Justin Maxwell, Blake Wood, and Paul Janish. I estimate a total of $25.7M in arbitration awards for twelve players.
Some contracts are already signed for 2015. Alex Gordon will earn $13.25M, along with Jeremy Guthrie's $9M, Jason Vargas' $8.5M, Omar Infante's $7.5M, Alcides Escobar's $3M and Salvador Perez's $1.75M. These six players will cost a total of $43M for next season, bringing the grand total to $68.7M for eighteen players. One should add $3.5M to reach $72.2M just in order to field a twenty-five man roster with seven guys making the league minimum salary. Additionally, if we stop right here, we will need to add the costs of some contract buyouts. Wade Davis will require a buyout of $2.5M, while Billy Butler and Bruce Chen will each get $1M for being dropped, and Scott Downs may have a $250K buyout coming if we are on the hook for his option. Discounting Downs, the buyouts will total $4.5M, so my estimate of our 2015 opening day payroll now totals $76.7M. One the other hand, if David Glass plays Santa Claus and gives in to options of Butler ($12.5M), Davis ($7M), Chen ($5.5M), and Downs ($4.25M), the Kansas City Royals will need to find that $29.25M. Without James Shields, Luke Hochevar, Nori Aoki, and Raul Ibanez and without signing any free agents above the league minimum, the 2015 Kansas City Royals with twelve arbitration players at $25.7M, six contract players at $43M, four option contract players at $29.25M, and completed with three fellows making league minimum (another $1.5M), will field a club record payroll of $99.45M.
Something has got to give, or some players have got to go. Instead of a long and drawn out debate, I will do another poll.