While the Cardinals are in the middle of a pennant race, it seems the questions about the offseason are growing louder. Whether it is Matt Holliday, Brandon Moss, or Jaime Garcia, there seem to be more frequent discussions about the composition of next year's team. Completely acknowledging that the current team is more interesting given their current spot in the playoff pecking order, there was no game yesterday so let's talk about just how much money the Cardinals have tied up for next year.
The Guaranteed Guarantees
This is the group of players who have guaranteed contracts for next year, and absent insanity on the market this winter, seem very likely to remain with the team through to next season.
Adam Wainwright: $19.5 M
Yadier Molina: $14 M
Matt Carpenter: $10 M
Mike Leake: $15 M
Aledmys Diaz: $2 M
The Not-Quite Guaranteed Guarantees
This is the group that will likely be on the Cardinals next year, but a shakeup in the winter could find some of these players movable/releasable.
Jhonny Peralta: $10 M
Lance Lynn: $7.5 M
Zach Duke: $5.5 M
Jedd Gyorko: $4 M (Cot's Contracts takes out $2 M, $2.5 M, and $3 M from 2017-2019 for the money paid by San Diego as a part of that contract, and I will do the same here and take that money out.)
Jonathan Broxton: $3.75 M
Brayan Pena: $2.5 M
Kolten Wong: $2.5 M
These are the players who are unlikely to have options exercised. Buyout and potential 2017 salary listed. Matt Holliday might have been listed in some middle ground, but the recent thumb injury makes that less likely. Things could still change leading into winter, but this is where we stand now.
Matt Holliday: $1 M buyout ($17 M salary)
Jordan Walden: $0.25 M buyout ($5.25 M salary)
These are players who are likely to have their options picked up.
Jaime Garcia: $12 M salary ($0.5 M buyout)
Seung-Hwan Oh: $2.75 M (this is the figure I heard on Sunday night on ESPN. Not sure on the buyout or the incentives, but the former likely doesn't matter)
These are the players who have been to arbitration at least once and figure to do so again next year. While we don't know for sure how these players will be paid, I gave them a 50% over this season.
Trevor Rosenthal: $8.4 M
Matt Adams: $2.5 M
Seth Maness: $2.1 M
These guys are going to get their first crack at being millionaires. Consider the estimates almost placeholders at this point as I just ballparked it.
Carlos Martinez: $4 M
Michael Wacha: $4 M
Kevin Siegrist: $2 M
If you are wondering where Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, etc. are, they will still be on minimum salaries next season, and aren't really significant for next year's payroll unless you consider having minimum payroll players allows you to spend more elsewhere.
So we take all that together and it looks a little something like this:
Add it all up and the Cardinals are looking at roughly $121 million in guarantees plus arbitration. If they pick up the options on Oh and Garcia, they will be pushing $135 million before any other moves. The payroll this season is pushing $150 million. They have players who could be moved like Peralta and Garcia. Rosenthal's potential arbitration award will make whatever decision the Cardinals make an interesting one.
How the Cardinals handle the Moss/Holliday question will be an interesting one. Presumably, they will give Moss a qualifying offer and if Moss accepts, it hasn't been the Cardinals style to bring back a still-productive, but aging player on multiple years. Carlos Beltran and John Lackey represent the two most recent examples where the Cardinals opted for the draft pick. The free agent class this year is relatively weak. As for Holliday, he simply won't have much time to up his stat line, but he'll still probably have a 20-homer season under his belt. Whether the Cardinals let him test free agency after seven great years will be one of the better questions the Cardinals have to face as the season ends.
The Cardinals have again put themselves in a position to invest in another core player if the opportunity presents itself, but the team is unlikely to be swimming in cash. Much of the Cardinals potential improvements next year will need to come from within.
A potential roster doesn't look a whole lot different than this year's:
Bench: Pham, Gyorko, Pena, Garcia, Hazelbaker
Minor Potential Callups: