One look at the Orioles’ projected payroll for next year leads me to this conclusion: To get what they need to get done, the payroll very likely will have to increase in 2016.
The Orioles have four players with salaries locked in for the 2016 season:
* $16.3 million - Adam Jones
* $15.8 million - Matt Wieters
* $13.0 million - Ubaldo Jimenez
* $12.5 million - J.J. Hardy
They have 11 arbitration-eligible players and their salaries for 2016 were projected by MLBTradeRumors.com recently:
* $6.9 million - Zach Britton
* $6.2 million - Chris Tillman
* $5.9 million - Manny Machado
* $4.9 million - Miguel Gonzalez
* $3.4 million - Brian Matusz
* $2.7 million - Vance Worley
* $1.5 million - Ryan Flaherty
* $1.1 million - Brad Brach
* $0.9 million - Nolan Reimold
* $0.8 million - David Lough
* $0.6 million - Paul Janish
If you add the first four players’ total of $57.6 million to the 11 estimated arbitration-eligible players at $34.9 million, you come up with $92.5 million.
If you consider pre-arbitration players like Caleb Joseph, Kevin Gausman, Jonathan Schoop and Mychal Givens, who seem likely to be on the team, add another $2-3 million as an estimate and you are around $95 million. There are a host of other players at the low end of the salary scale who we could see on the team of course.
Take that number and, for fun, say the Orioles signed Chris Davis at $25 million per year and Alex Gordon at $15 million. They are at $135 million and would not have added one pitcher. Take away Davis and give $25 million to a legit top-of-rotation starting pitcher and they’ve added a pitcher but now don’t have a first baseman. We haven’t accounted yet even for a possible re-signing of Darren O’Day, which could cost $7-8 million or even more per year.
The Orioles could, of course, non-tender one or more arbitration players and save a few dollars, but nothing that significant. But there could still be some potential savings there.
Even if the Orioles fill one or more holes through trades and not free agent signings, they still have to pay the players they will have acquired.
According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the Orioles’ opening day payroll the last few years looked like this:
2012: $84.1 million
2013: 92.2 million
2014: 107.9 million
2015: 118.9 million
According to Cot’s, the Orioles’ season-ending payrolls ranked 14th in the majors in both 2013 and 2014. They don’t yet have the rankings for last season, but it is probably in that same middle-of-the-pack range.
By the way, the Orioles finished third in the American League East last year with 81 wins and they were also third in a stat looking at dollars per win. A stat where you simply divide the opening day payroll by wins to see how efficient a team was with its dollars. In those standings:
* $0.95 million per win, Tampa Bay ($75.8 million/80 wins)
* $1.35 million per win, Toronto ($125.9 million/93 wins)
* $1.47 million per win, Orioles ($118.9 million/81 wins)
* $2.36 million per win, Boston ($184.3 million/78 wins)
* $2.50 million per win, New York ($217.7 million/87 wins)
You get nothing for finishing first in this stat and it can be misleading. For instance, Toronto took on players and payroll at the trading deadline. But the moves worked since it led them to the division title, but not a World Series title.
The Orioles certainly have some work to do to add to their team and/or keep some of their own free agents. Doing all of this without a payroll increase seems a near impossible task to me, based on the figures here.