11 October 2016

Cup of jO's: Orioles Arbitration Projections

Before last offseason, projecting the Orioles' payroll was an endeavor that you could easily get yourself into a 5 MM range of the actual final total.  Then the payroll rocketed up into the mid 140s (often reported higher due to deferred money), which was about 15 MM or so beyond was most optimistically expected by fans.  With such a large jump in payroll, it makes one a little cautious to think it will jump again and projected arbitration values make the payroll look pretty tight.  In this post we will run through the MLB Trade Rumor projections, which are rather close to what winds up happening.

Chis Tillman (10.6 MM) - When Tillman is playing well, he performs at an ace capacity.  When he is not, he is performing as a sub-5 arm.  In the past, we have seen more of the top end of his projection than the low end.  However, he dealt with reduced velocity and potential injury issues at the end of last season.  With six starting pitchers (arguably) on the roster and barely any on the open market, Tillman may be a valuable trade piece.  He only has a season left in Baltimore, so it might make sense to cash out now and use the returning pieces to fill some holes as well as the excess money.

Ryan Flaherty (1.7 MM) - As I noted last August, I hope fans enjoyed Flaherty's 2016 because I cannot see him staying on.  Flaherty arrived in Baltimore as a bat first, fringe corner infielder.  He became a glove first middle infielder.  It was a metamorphosis that I have rarely seen.  Anyway, the Orioles can probably find something similar to Flaherty for the league minimum and save a million.

Zach Britton (11.4 MM) - Britton is a Cy Young Candidate and this is probably the last year the Orioles will see any exceptional value for him if he is dealt as next year his arbitration value likely moves up to about 14-17 MM.  Yes, the Orioles would not have made the playoffs without him this year (something you could actually say about several players), but with their pen it seems that they could replace his value internally.  The Orioles probably would do better spending this money elsewhere and let Britton toss two years of innings elsewhere.  I think he stays though.

Vance Worley (3.3 MM) - Worley is capable of pitching well in relief and sometimes passing as a starting pitcher.  For a rotation that flames out quickly, that kind of arm to cushion innings in a pen is valuable.  His final line produced a well above average ERA (126 ERA+) that FIP (4.82) questions.  He is the kind of pitcher you really do not want to give big money to because you think he is going to implode any moment, but he is not all that expensive for the role he has.  That said, if you have great faith in Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright then it is best to save yourself about 2.8 MM by going with them.

Brad Brach (2.9 MM) - Brach is a solid middle inning reliever and this cost is a surplus value of about 3-5 MM, so he is a keeper.

Manny Machado (11.2 MM) - Next.

Jonathan Schoop (3.4 MM) - Schoop is a solid second baseman and another year has passed waiting on him to break out to the next level.  It has not happened.  That said, he is still a solid average second baseman at a low cost.

T.J. McFarland (0.7 MM) - Cheap arm, but he does not really solve a major issue for the Orioles anymore.  They have pitchers in the pen capable of multiple innings and McFarland does not take advantage of lefty matchups.  Like Flaherty, he seems like a non-tender.

Kevin Gausman (3.9 MM) - Next.

Caleb Joseph (1 MM) - Joseph had an awful year, but he is still a solid catcher who can be sent to the minors if needed.  You have to keep a guy like that on your roster.  If Wieters leaves, Joseph can perform as the weak half of a catcher platoon or be a usable backup catcher.

Potential Players to Target

Khris Davis (5.0 MM, Athletics) - Davis is the Mark Trumbo coming off a good year kind of player.  He is a mess in the outfield and his arm would be rather questionable in right field.  However, his sheer power makes him look like a better player than he really is.  At 5 MM, the Athletics can hold on to him and wait for the best offer, but they should be worried that this may be the last year that a team or two really believes in his talent.  A major question of fit for the Orioles is if he cannot play right field, then where does he go?  Does he join a platoon in left field and then is a DH when not platooned in the field?  Regardless, he could be a 35 home run bat with the Orioles and they tend to value that.

Chris Carter (8.1 MM, Brewers) - Like Davis, Carter also hit more than 40 home runs, but Carter's line is so dreadful that his production was on par with a bench player.  He is what Trumbo would have been if he had hit as poorly in the first half as he did the second half.  He might be the true Trumbo play at 8.1 MM, but it is hard to find much upside beyond hoping for a league average RH DH.  As such, he carries slightly more negatives than Trumbo did.

Charlie Blackmon (9.0 MM, Rockies) - Blackmon had a breakout season for the Rockies.  He has one season left under control, works a count better than Adam Jones, has speed, some power, and can play right field.  At 9 MM, the Rockies probably consider him a bargain.  In some realm, you might be able to see a Blackmon for Tillman deal.  That said, the Orioles probably would have to give up something big to get him now.


GRob78 said...

This is reasonable and the projections are pretty much where we'd expect them to be, though I think Schoop gets a bit more or even a long term extension as a strategic piece to keep Machado around. Maybe MacFarland stays but he could just as easily head out. Biggest roster question is whether we can retain Trumbo who I think is going to get a ton of money, but almost exclusively from AL teams for the DH role. Boston could realistically go get him as could Toronto, maybe even Detriot. I don't know but his poor fielding will keep him limited. Joseph will be back for cheap and we'll see some minor league prospects getting their shot here.

Good post, thanks

Pip said...

Did you compare Miguel Conzalez to Yovani Gallardo?
Gonzalez was superior in every stat that I checked, and the White Sox got him for league minimum, and the South Side Sox Blog boss told me that keeping him is a no-brainer...
While we spent 22 million for Gallardo to be terrible.
So it's doubtful they'd keep Worley, after going to such foolish effort to dump Gonzalez and Matusz just to save a few bucks.
TJ is left-handed: even though he's out of options, he should return at least until the final cut of Spring Training.
Janish instead of Flaherty might be a good choice.?
Joseph should stay, but Castro, Hundley, et al are all bad defensive catchers. A partner with Joseph needs to be a good defender.
Trading Britton is more likely because of Buck's bonehead non-move in the WC card game. He can't keep hearing constant reminders of what was the dumbest decision in baseball's recent history, and trading Britton would bring an excellent return and free up some money. But Dan is a fool and will never do it.
Danny Valencia had an excellent season with the A's, is inexpensive and is a competent RF(certainly better than Davis or Trumbo) and is risking being non-tendered by Oakland because of the Billy Butler fight, claims of clubhouse chemistry problems( which were refuted by players on Toronto and in KC) and Oakland's youth movement.
Might be worthwhile picking him up?

Jon Shepherd said...

GRob - Thanks. I think someone like Schoop is not a major reason why Machado will stay or go. He will want to be paid and I doubt having a buddy around is worth all that much. He knows many people in the league and it is more of a fraternal profession these days with players from other teams working out in the offseason.

Trumbo? Toronto looks like the most obvious choice. If Orioles put a QO on him, I would not be surprised to see him accept it. As prolific as his home run hitting was, he really was not that great of a player and has been rather poor in previous years. That is a good bit of risk.

Pip - The Orioles did not like Gonzalez' shoulder or his performance at the end of the year, so they took a calculated risk. He looked awful in Spring Training. I am uncertain why we should compare the two. They were not vying for the same position. I can see Matusz as a poor way to handle things. I do not fault them for Gonzalez. He looked poor and his shoulder was off. Wilson and Wright looked better. They wound up not being all that good.

As noted in the article, TJ is left handed, but he does not have the advantages of being a left hander with his pitching. Therefore, he really does not count as a lefty out of the pen.

Castro is a poor defensive catcher? No. He is one of the better defensive catchers in baseball. Arm is average, but everything else is above average to plus plus.

If Buck's decision is the reason for trading Britton, then baseball is completely broken in Baltimore.

Valencia? One might wonder why so many teams have given up on him and why the Athletics were considering just dropping him in September even though he carried a 118 wRC+ in RF.

Pip said...

I stand corrected. I thought Castro was a bad defender. Maybe I mixed him up with someone else.
Gonzalez had an option. Releasing him when they had such a severe need for pitching is a bad decision, and as shown, unjustified after the fact.
Comparing Gonzalez and Gallardo is valid because Gonzalez was better for far less, and if they had taken advantage of Migo's option, Gallardo might not have been picked up at all, especially when Gallardo himself had medical issues.
I think Britton should be traded at the top of his value, and the fact that every single time a game gets into dangerous innings, that decision will be brought up, might be an issue. It is only human to do so, and only human to want to get away from it.
I'm not suggesting it's the main reason or the only reason to trade Britton, but it might be the final straw that tips the balance. Certainly the Giants need him and can pay well for him.
Yes I agree about Valencia, I was just wondering if he might be a worthwhile pickup. His arbitration estimate is about 5 million and his production was about the same as Alvarez.
I appreciate your thoughtful replies and as always I enjoy your articles.

vilnius b. said...

I'm all on board with the idea of seeing what we can get for Tillman. I'm grateful for the season he had but I feel as though he's like Jordan Zimmermann---a pitcher who is about to implode both because he is no longer as durable as he once was and his improved but hardly impressive K/9IP is likely to go down. By whiff rate, he's really just an average pitcher: his four seamer, changeup, and slider are all average pitches.
Now that we know that Gausman is the real deal and the shackles on Bundy will probably be taken off next year and he'll be allowed to throw the cutter at least some of the time, it's a good time to see how other teams value him. If Miley can pitch reasonably well then this club has demonstrated repeatedly we can compete with just three good starters.
Given Blackmon's reasonable cost for the Rocs to keep and Tillman's lack of an outstanding fastball (a little better than 91mph the last two years) IMO it's doubtful that we can pry Blackmon away from Colorado.
I can't see trading Britton this coming winter. Yes, his value is at its highest, and it's unlikely he can repeat such a dominant year but he'll probably still be one of the best closers in baseball next year and we might as well keep him at least until the trade deadline next summer (I'm guessing the Orioles will revert to 2013 and 2015 form) and then see what kind of haul we can get. If it's anything like the Yankees got for Chapman and Miller this is a good time to start rebuilding the farm system. Wieters is probably gone and Adam Jones is showing signs of aging.
Of course, that assumes that Duquette thinks like McPhail, his predecessor. Unfortunately, there's no evidence of that. But he better wake up: the Yankees just greatly improved their farm system depth and the Red Sox already have great organizational depth. It's time to swallow some bitter medicine, lose for at least one year but set the foundation for renewed success.

Jon Shepherd said...

MiGo and Gallardo were not competing for the same position. Their was never an either discussion. It was MiGo vs Wright and Wilson. The MiGo decision had nothing to do with Gallardo. It was about saving 4 MM on an arm they thought was toast.

Jon Shepherd said...

Ugh, there.

Roger said...

I agree that Worley (this year's MiGo) and McFarland and Flaherty are all non-tender candidates. Each would be a nice minor league signing. I realize this article is all about arbitration guys but the BORAS article shows that Jay Bruce is the best Trumbo replacement not Khris Davis or Chris Carter.