Clubhouses are empty; ballparks have gone into hibernation; daylight savings time has ended; most players are back home. Yes, the 2012 Major League baseball season has begun. While the casual fan might be saying “Huh?” fantasy players know full well next year has, in fact, started. The signs are all around us. The free agency period has started, the general managers’ meeting is one week away, the deadline for offering arbitration is only two weeks away, and the winter meetings are only four weeks away. So while front offices all across baseball are in full swing for 2012, now’s as good a time as any to assess where each team is at heading into this all important planning phase. (And as important as it is for real teams, it is equally important for fantasy players).
Arizona Diamondbacks – Arizona had a payroll of $56M in 2011 and has $30.5M committed so far for 2012 with Justin Upton (6.75M), Stephen Drew (7.75M), Chris Young (7.0M), J.J. Putz (4.5M), John McDonald (1.5M), Henry Blanco (1.2M), and Geoff Blum (1.35M). Ian Kennedy, Miguel Montero, Ryan Roberts, Joe Saunders, and Brad Ziegler are all arbitration eligible. Kennedy, in particular, should see a hefty raise from last year’s $423,000 salary. Willie Bloomquist opted out of his contract while Aaron Hill and Zach Duke had their options declined. Jason Marquis, Lyle Overbay, and Xavier Nady opted for free agency.
Atlanta Braves – The Braves have $60M in salary already for 2012 after a $91M 2011 payroll with Dan Uggla (13.0M), Chipper Jones (13.0M), Brian McCann (8.5M), Matt Diaz (2.0M), Eric Hinske (1.5M), David Ross (1.62M), and Tim Hudson (9.0M) still under contract. Included in that number is $10M owed to recently traded Derek Lowe. Martin Prado, Michael Bourn, Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Kris Medlen, Eric O’Flaherty and Peter Moylan are all arbitration eligible while Alex Gonzalez, Scott Linebrink, George Sherrill, and Jack Wilson have become free agents. Atlanta declined the option on Nate McLouth and he too hits the open market.
Chicago Cubs – After spending $134M in salaries in 2011, the Cubs enter the Theo Epstein era with $70.6M already earmarked to Alfonso Soriano (19.0M), Carlos Zambrano (19.0M), Ryan Dempster (14.0M), Carlos Marmol (7.0M), Marlon Byrd (6.5M), Sean Marshall (3.1M), and 2.0M towards Carlos Silva. Matt Garza and Geovany Soto lead the list for those eligible for arbitration with Jeff Baker, Koyie Hill, Blake DeWitt, and Randy Wells also eligible. Jeff Samardzija had his option declined as did Aramis Ramirez. Becoming free agents are John Grabow, Reed Johnson, Rodrigo Lopez, Ramon Ortiz, Carlos Pena, and Kerry Wood.
Cincinnati Reds - Cincinnati spent $80.8M in 2011 on player salaries and has $62.7M on the books already for 2012. This includes contracts for Brandon Phillips (12.25M), Bronson Arroyo (12M), Joey Votto (11.5M), Scott Rolen (8.17M), Johnny Cueto (5.4M), Jay Bruce (5.04M), Aroldis Chapman (4.71M), Yonder Alonso (1.4M), Ryan Hanigan (1.3M), and Miguel Cairo (1.0M). Edinson Volquez, Homer Bailey, Paul Janish, Jose Arredondo, Bill Bray, and Nick Masset are in their arbitration years. Ramon Hernandez, Edgar Renteria, and Dontrelle Willis have become free agents while the Reds have declined their option on Francisco Cordero.
Colorado Rockies – The Rockies have $62.08M so far in 2012 salaries after spending $82.3M in 2011. This includes the likes of Jorge de la Rosa (10.5M), Troy Tulowitzki, (8.25M), Huston Street (7.5M), Carlos Gonzalez (5.43M), Todd Helton (4.9M), Jason Hammel (4.75M), Rafael Betancourt (4.0M), Ty Wigginton (4.0M), Matt Belisle (3.77M), Chris Iannetta (3.63M), Matt Lindstrom (3.6M), and Jason Giambi (1.0M). They also owe $0.25M to Manny Corpas and that is included in the total so far. Ian Stewart, Seth Smith, Dexter Fowler, and Ryan Spilborghs are eligible for arbitration. Colorado declined to pick up the option for Aaron Cook and Mark Ellis, Kevin Millwood, and J.C. Romero have become free agents.
Florida Marlins – Florida had salaries of $57.695M in 2011 and already have $49.75M on the books for 2012 with $15.0M going to Hanley Ramirez, $13.75M to Josh Johnson, $9.0M to Ricky Nolasco, $6.5M to John Buck, $4.0M to Omar Infante, and $1.5M to Randy Choate. Anibal Sanchez, Leo Nunez, Clay Hensley, Burke Badenhop, Edward Mujica, Chris Volstad, Chris Coghlan, John Baker, Emilio Bonifacio, and Donnie Murphy are all eligible for salary arbitration. Javier Vazquez, Greg Dobbs, and Jose Lopez have filed to become free agents.
Houston Astros – The Astros had a payroll of $76.97M in 2011 which included $3.0M they owed to Bill Hall and $7.0M they were responsible for Roy Oswalt. Their 2012 payroll is at $47.25M which includes $0.025M still owed to Bill Hall. On top of that they are on the hook for Carlos Lee (19.0M), Brett Myers (12.0M), Wandy Rodriguez (10.5M), and Brandon Lyon (4.0M). Humberto Quintero, J.A. Happ, and Angel Sanchez are arbitration eligible while Jason Michaels and Clint Barmes have become free agents.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Los Angeles had a hefty $119.78 salary commitment in 2011 – especially considering the mess with the McCourt situation. This included $8.33M still due Manny Ramirez, $3.5M due Juan Pierre, $3.2M for Andruw Jones, and $1.2M for Lance Cormier. 2012 payroll commitments are $50.2M which still includes $8.33M for Manny Ramirez and $3.2M for Andruw Jones. Actual players under contract are Ted Lilly (11.67M), Chad Billingsley (9.0M), Juan Uribe (8.0M), Matt Guerrier (4.75M), and Juan Rivera (4.0M). Eligible for salary arbitration are Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, James Loney, Tony Gwynn Jr., Clayton Kershaw, and Hong-Chih Kuo. The Dodgers declined their options on Casey Blake and Jon Garland while Rod Barajas, Jonathan Broxton, Jamey Carroll, Hiroki Kuroda, Mike MacDougal, Aaron Miles, and Vicente Padilla have all hit the open market.
It’s clear to see that there are some not so good contracts still out there that teams are responsible for and could hurt them as they try to fill out their 2012 rosters. Next week I will finish looking at the rest of the National League teams.