The Royals will look to improve this off-season, and we may have a better idea on what their current payroll costs may be with the release of MLB Trade Rumors’ project arbitration salaries today. The site has created a model that has been pretty accurate at predicting the salaries or arbitration-eligible players.
Players are eligible for arbitration once they accrue at least three or more years of service time (plus “Super Two” players) but are not yet eligible for free agency. Clubs have to decide whether or not to “tender” the player a contract, and the two sides negotiate on a salary, and if they are unable to come to an agreement by February, each side submits a figure to an independent arbitrator. The arbitrator will pick a side to win, and cannot split the difference.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Royals have nine players eligible for arbitration, and they project the following salaries:
- Hanser Alberto – $2.1MM
- Andrew Benintendi – $9.3MM
- Adalberto Mondesi – $3.2MM
- Jakob Junis – $1.8MM
- Brad Keller – $5.2MM
- Cam Gallagher – $900K
- Scott Barlow – $2.4MM
- Ryan O’Hearn – $1.4MM
- Nicky Lopez – $2.0MM
They note that service time estimates are not official and the Super-Two cutoff is not known, and it is unclear whether Lopez would be eligible for arbitration. The Super-Two cutoff is for players who have between two and three years of service time, and are in the top 22 percent of those players in service time. The cutoff has been getting lower, with two years and 115 days the cutoff in 2019. Cot’s Contracts has Lopez at one year and and 139 days of service time before this season and he spent the entire season with the Major League club. Ryan O’Hearn is another player who may or may not be arbitration-eligible this year.
The combined pay of those nine arbitration-eligible players is $28.3 million. The Royals have six players under contract next year, who will make a total of $50.5 million in salary.
- Salvador Perez - $18 million
- Carlos Santana - $10.5 million
- Mike Minor- $10 million
- Hunter Dozier - $4.75 million
- Michael A. Taylor - $4.5 million
- Whit Merrifield - $2.75 million
The Royals will have 11 other players under pre-arbitration salaries that will make around $7 million. So next year’s payroll is projected to be around $85 million if they keep the current roster. Hanser Alberto, Jakob Junis, Cam Gallagher, and Ryan O’Hearn could all be non-tender candidates, which could save some money.
This entire arbitration system could be scrapped under a new collective bargaining agreement this winter. Players have been frustrated at how they are paid before they reach free agency, usually their most productive seasons.