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Update: The Cardinals Payroll Matrix, 2019-2022

Halfway through the off-season, how does payroll look?

Cincinnati Reds v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Back in early November, I rebooted a classic Craig Edwards series- the Cardinals future payroll matrix. We’re approximately halfway to Opening Day now, and it’s been a busy off-season for the Cardinals. With that in mind, it’s time to update the matrix.

Here’s what’s new since the last version:

  • Paul Goldschmidt has been added.
  • Andrew Miller has been added.
  • Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver, dealt for Goldschmidt, have been removed.
  • Derian Gonzalez and Connor Greene, each outrighted earlier in the off-season, have been removed.
  • Patrick Wisdom has been removed after being traded to the Rangers. In his place, you’ll see Drew Robinson, the bounty for Wisdom.
  • Lane Thomas, Genesis Cabrera, Ryan Helsley, and Ramon Urias, all added to the 40-man roster, have been added.

It’s also a good time for some reminders. Most arbitration estimates are $4M/$6M/$9M for higher profile players and $1.5M/$2.3M/$3.5M for lower profile players. 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 information comes from a combination of Cot’s and Spotrac. I’ve used Cot’s for the most recent deals.

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 $6 million to $8 million less in actual practice.

Finally, for a frame of reference, last year’s opening day payroll was $159.698 million. At this point, they’re a few million ahead of that pace. A few months back at Fangraphs, Edwards tacked on a 5% increase to each team while estimating payroll room. The Cardinals could spend $6M to $11M before reaching that number. Of course, nothing is stopping them from spending more than that. The luxury tax threshold for 2019 is $206M, so there’s ample room to add without incurring penalties should they choose to do so.

As promised, here is the updated matrix.