Yesterday the Cincinnati Reds came to agreement on 1-year contracts for 2020 with five players. Pitchers Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, and Matt Bowman, along with catcher Curt Casali all avoided heading to arbitration with the Reds by inking 1-year deals.
Arbitration is something that everyone likes to avoid. When the player and teams can’t come to an agreement on a deal, both sides put in what they believe the contract should be worth for the upcoming season. One of those two contracts will win – there’s no in-between number, it’s an either/or situation. Both sides have to go in front of the arbiter and present their case as to why their number is correct, and at times it leaves bad feelings with the players as their team basically tells them why they aren’t as good as they believe that they are.
MLB Trade Rumors has a system in place that projects what players would wind up getting in arbitration, and it’s been pretty accurate over the years. Nothing is going to be perfect, but it’s been very reliable. For the five players that the team signed to 2020 contracts yesterday, they had projected the total in arbitration to be $30,600,000. The Reds signed the five players to a total of $29,528,000.
While the outcome from arbitration wasn’t likely going to change the payroll much – both sides tend to have a generally good understanding of the range they are likely to win, with five players, it’s possible that it could have made a $3-5,000,000 difference based on the best/worst case scenario of outcomes for one side or the other between all of the parties involved.
Here’s an updated look at the 2020 Payroll for the Cincinnati Reds.
We can round that up and just call it $124,000,000 to make it nice and easy. The Reds front office has spoken about having a record high payroll in 2020. And it certainly seems that they were trying to get there, too. They came up short in the running for both Yasmani Grandal and Zack Wheeler – both of whom who would have pushed the organization to a new high.
But as things sit right now, it’s tough to see where any free agents remaining would lead the Reds to a new high in payroll. While they have been linked outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos, the latest rumors seem to have them out of the running for now on both.
That isn’t to say that the Reds are done. The price for either of those players could change and Cincinnati could re-engage. And there’s always the trade market, too. Earlier this week it was noted that throughout the offseason the Reds had been showing interest in Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager. They’ve also been linked to Francisco Lindor in trade talks all offseason as well.
It will be interesting to see what moves are left for the Reds this offseason. As things sit right now, the team – at least on paper – projects near the top of the division. But the division is very close. And when it comes to situations like that, every small improvement made can be an actual difference maker. That marginal win matters a lot more at the top than it does when you’re looking at a 78-win team where getting to 79 wins doesn’t change anything but maybe your draft position. There’s money remaining in the budget. But finding the right spot to spend it could be a little bit challenging, too, given the current make up of the team and what’s available.