Revisiting the 2016 payroll projection

Now that the deadline to tender contracts has come and gone, it’s time to take another look at the projected Orioles payroll for 2016.

The Orioles have six players with salaries set 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
* $2.6 million - Vance Worley
* $1.3 million - Nolan Reimold

The Orioles have these eight players that are arbitration-eligible with their projected 2016 salaries from

* $9.1 million - Mark Trumbo
* $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
* $1.5 million - Ryan Flaherty
* $1.1 million - Brad Brach

If you add the first six players’ total of $61.5 million to the eight estimated arbitration-eligible players at $39 million, you come up with $100.5 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 $103 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.

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

That payroll that has increased three straight years may have to do just that again. If the Orioles re-sign Chris Davis and add a pitcher or outfielder at $12 million per year, for instance, that could add an estimated $35 million and bring the club to $138 million - about $20 million more for 2016 than 2015. Even with that, we have not accounted for a possible re-signing of Darren O’Day or another reliever to replace him if he departs.

When I interviewed former Orioles and Met executive Jim Duquette this week, I asked him about the Orioles payroll and what it might look like next year.

davis-swings-grey-sidebar.jpg“That is the one thing everyone is wondering,” Duquette said. “Their payroll was around $118 (million) last year. They are at about $100 (million) with Trumbo. If you keep the same payroll, that doesn’t leave much room for Davis and anything more. I think you need to see the payroll go up, at least for this year, at least for 2016.

“The beauty of looking long-term is the Orioles don’t have a lot of committed dollars. They have been pretty clean in that sense and so that gives them flexibility to structure some contracts. I would expect that figure will be north of where it has been the last couple of years.”

One possible scenario is that the O’s see a payroll increase in 2016 and one that is potentially lower in 2017. Heading into that 2017 season, the Orioles could see about $25 million comes off the books if Wieters and Trumbo are with another team.

For now, while club officials are not likely to tip their hand on their own payroll goals for next year, it appears the O’s will need to add dollars to get to where they want to go next season.

Speaking of money: Last winter, some Orioles fans were upset when free agents Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz were not re-signed by the team. Just wonder how Los Angeles Dodgers fans - fans of a team with a seemingly unlimited payroll - feel this morning when Arizona swept in and outbid the team by around $50 million to sign pitcher Zach Greinke.

This Los Angeles Times story is interesting. Here is an excerpt from it:

“No one -- not the fans, certainly not opposing teams - appeared to take the Dodgers at their word when they kept insisting they would develop a sustainable franchise. The Dodgers are terrified of turning into the New York Yankees of the early 2010s and the Philadelphia Phillies of the last few years, immobilized by too many old guys making too much money.

The $300-million payroll last season attracted all the headlines, but the Dodgers really do want to get younger. This, Dodgers fans, is the painful proof.”

My take continues to be this is not all about money. Yes, the Orioles payroll needs to go up this year, but they are very likely not going to be a top spending team anytime soon. Even the Dodgers, according to that story, don’t way to pay too many olds guys too much money. This time the Los Angeles Times said it, not me.

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