Monday, December 7, 2009

What happens if Jose Valverde accepts arbitration?

So, with the news from Ken Rosenthal this morning that Valverde may accept arbitration, what the heck will that do to the 2010 Astros? Allow me...

-He would continue his mostly-dominant role as an elite-ish closer for the Astros.

Valverde has 69 saves for the Astros over the last two years, with a 2.93 ERA/1.16 WHIP. From the point at which Valverde returned from the leg injury on June 13, through the end of the season, he had a 1.76 ERA/1.11 WHIP, and 23 saves to two blown saves.

The Astros don't have any obvious in-house relievers to take Valverde's role. Bringing him back would keep the 9th inning (mostly) secure, in the 70-75 instances the Astros will need to preserve a lead in the 9th in 2010.

-It would add about $10 million to the 2010 payroll.

Payroll is the biggest issue that Valverde's accepting arbitration would impact. $10 million is an estimate for Valverde's services that has been thrown around by AC, and other media sources, as well. The Astros already have $58.5 million committed to the 2010 team, and are trying to keep payroll around $90-95 million. Putting Valverde on the books for $10m would leave $22-27m for Ed Wade to play with, and that's before arbitration raises coming to Pence, Bourn, Wandy, Byrdak, Quintero, Keppinger, and Sampson.

It's hard to project where these players' bottom lines will end up, but a conservative guess would be around an $11m raise from the ~$5 they received in 2009. That's a total of about $16 million (and this is guess-timating, one of my all-time most-hated words). So with Valverde and the $16m for the arbitration guys, that puts
payroll at about $84 million. Meaning there's $6-11m for the rest of the team, which is not a lot. At all.

-The Astros wouldn't receive two high draft picks.

This is the second biggest issue the decision would impact. If you believe everything you read online, the Astros' farm system is held together with chewing gum and chicken wire. The Astros could really use an extra first-round draft pick plus a supplemental round pick. If Valverde declines arbitration and signs with another team, those picks come to Bobby Heck. If he accepts, then...uh, just the one first-round pick.

What am I missing?