Friday, July 22, 2011

The $60 million question

So Jim Crane wants to get payroll to $60 million for 2012. How in the world is that going to happen? Let's take a look, because you could get an indication as to who might get moved in the next eight days...

Player2011 salary2012 Salary
C. Lee$18.5m$18.5m
W. Rodriguez$7m$10m
B. Myers$7m$11m
B. Lyon$5.25m$5.5m

Okay, those are your guaranteed contracts, totaling $45m. Now how about the arbitration-eligible players, with 2012 numbers coming from an educated guess?

Player2011 salary2012 Salary
H. Pence$6.9m$12m
M. Bourn$4.4m$8m
H. Quintero$1m$1.3m
J. Happ$474K$2m
A. Sanchez$433K$800K

Jeff Fulchino is arbitration-eligible, but I can see the Astros non-tendering him, so in the interest of keeping this list to 25 players, he's not on here. Estimated arbitration-eligible players: $24.1m

Players who will be free agents in 2012:
Clint Barmes ($3.93m in 2011)
Jason Michaels ($900K in 2011)

Players not yet arbitration-eligible, and therefore will be signing for around $450K each:
Fernando Abad, Alberto Arias, Brian Bogusevic, Jason Bourgeois, Jason Castro, Enerio Del Rosario, Matt Downs, Chris Johnson, Wilton Lopez, Jordan Lyles, Mark Melancon, Bud Norris, Aneury Rodriguez, Brett Wallace

14 players x ~$450K = $6.3m

Now, I listed 25 players here. It's entirely possible that the Astros will let Michaels walk, and offer arbitration to Fulchino, etc. But our total at this point is $75.4m, give or take a few hundred thousand dollars here and there - not factoring in a deal for Barmes or Michaels. We've also not factored in the possibility of locking Pence or Bourn up to a long-term deal. In fact, this list is so fluid that it's hardly a worthwhile exercise.

Point being, the Astros - in order to meet Crane's dream payroll of $60m - are going to need to cut about $15m from the 2011 payroll. The question is, from where? Because let's say the Astros trade Wandy - to get a decent haul of prospects, they're probably going to have to pick up $5m in his salary, so rather than cutting $10m that he's due, that's only going to be $5m (and that's only his 2012 numbers - not 2013, or the option that takes effect once he gets traded). Trading Wandy by himself is only going to take payroll from $75.4m to $70.4m, and is off-set by whatever scale the Astros have to pick up. And Barmes isn't even factored into the 2012 payroll.

Multiple moves are going to have to be made in order to make this $15m goal. Where do you see it happening?

It's pretty clear to see that what is now very obviously the Right Move is to go back in time and force Ed Wade to trade Myers and Wandy when they had team-friendly contracts and, in Myers' case, a brilliant year. They are our Astros, a year late and $15m short.