Future payroll and Nolasco


Last week, Michael went over why it would be a wise idea to lock up Ricky Nolasco despite what his ERA looked like last season. Another reason why it would be a good idea is what our current projected payroll looks like.

To start, let’s look at our payroll for the 2011 season. It seems the Marlins will be about in the $50-55M payroll range next season. In order to do this, the Marlins need to lose about two from Leo Nunez (Second year arbitration), Jorge Cantu (Free Agent), Cody Ross (Third year arbitration), and Dan Uggla (Third year arbitration). Considering the options we have in the minors, losing two of these should not hurt the ball club in comparison to losing Nolasco.

More importantly though is 2012, corresponding to the opening of the new stadium and a major rise in payroll. What is our projected line up for 2012? Something along the lines of the following:

C: John Baker (1st year arbitration, ~$2M)
1B: Logan Morrison (Minimum)
2B: Chris Coghlan (1st year arbitration, ~$2.5M)
SS: Hanley Ramirez ($15M)
3B: Matt Dominguez (Minimum)
CF: Cameron Maybin (Minimum)
RF: Mike Stanton (Minimum)
LF: Scott Cousins/Bryan Petersen/Jake Smolinski (Minimum)

If we assume the final five bench spots cost about $3.5M, we’re looking at paying $25 million for the position players. If we assume the bullpen costs about $5M all together, we’re now looking at $30M for the entire team outside of the 5 rotation spots. With Josh Johnson taking up $13.75M, and Sean West (Minimum) and Chris Volstad (1st year arbitration, ~$2.5M) likely locks, that leaves about $14M left ($60M payroll) for the final two rotation spots. Ricky will likely make about $9-13M (see below for the big discrepancy), leaving $1-5M for our 5th starter. And if we push the payroll closer to league average ($70M), we’re talking about even more excess money.

So as we can see, it is easily possible for us to keep Ricky with what our projected payroll will be in the future due to the cost controlled talent we will have. And considering he’ll come a lot cheaper than getting the equivalent on the free agent market, it would be very wise to lock him up.

One of the current questions though is, does our club control of Ricky end after the 2011 season or the 2012 season?

Joe Frisaro recently said it’s after the 2011 season. However, Cots lists his current service time at 3.142. If Cots is correct, that means we have control of his 2012 season. Cots lists this because Ricky was optioned in late august in 2007. Originally on rehab assignment, Ricky used his allotted 30 day maximum for rehab assignment, forcing the Marlins to option him. They would not call him back up. This is somewhat similar to the JJ Hardy situation this past season, where the Milwaukee Brewers optioned him in August and delayed his free agency. The Marlins unlikely did this on purpose though, unlike the Brewers.

Now, it requires at least 20 days during optional assignment for it to count against service time. This is why Ricky’s optional assignment in 2009 does not count against him. The question is, does September not count towards those 20 days, due to the fact that the minor league season ends in very early September? If that is the case, than Frisaro is correct. If that is not the case, than Cots is likely correct. It will most definitely be something to track and hopefully we can get a more definitive answer soon.