As most of you are aware, VEB site manager emeritus Craig Edwards used to regularly post a Cardinal payroll matrix, frequently after larger moves happened. With the off-season beginning, a new contract for Adam Wainwright, and several big ticket free agents hitting the market, now seems like as good a time as any to revisit the payroll matrix. I had originally planned to post this earlier this week. It’s a good thing I didn’t, because now we can shed Matthew Bowman, Francisco Pena, and Greg Garcia.
I’ve taken a few cues from the matrix created by Craig Edwards. For instance, most arbitration estimates are $4M/$6M/$9M for higher profile players and $1.5M/$2.3M/$3.5M for lower profile players. Similarly, I’ve taken the Cardinals’ commitment to the Mariners for Mike Leake and the Padres’ commitment to the Cardinals for Jedd Gyorko and split it evenly across the remaining deal just as before. For Michael Wacha, Marcell Ozuna, Chasen Shreve, and Dominic Leone, I’ve used their arbitration estimates found at MLB Trade Rumors.
The former matrix used Cot’s as a guide. I’ve used a combination of Cot’s and Spotrac. There wasn’t specific logic to it. Rather, I had already plugged in values from Spotrac by the time I noticed that the former matrix was created with Cot’s. I’ll be updating this when called for, and I’ll be using Cot’s moving forward.
The matrix is fairly large for now, including every player on the 40-man roster. Each pre-arbitration player has $550k listed as their 2019 salary. However, players on the 40-man roster have considerably smaller salaries if they don’t appear in the major leagues during the season. It’s either $44,500 or $88,900 depending upon how many big league contracts they’ve signed. With that in mind and if I’m understanding it correctly, the totals at the bottom will be approximately $5 million to $7 million less in actual practice.
Finally, for a frame of reference, last year’s opening day payroll was $159.698 million. Using that benchmark, the Cardinals could spend approximately $25-30 million to match last year’s opening day payroll. If you tack on a standard 5% increase to last year’s payroll, as Edwards himself did on Fangraphs this week when estimating the payroll room for each team, you end up with $32-$37M available for off-season acquisitions.
As promised, here is the updated matrix.