A quick look at the Marlins’ payroll


Here at Marlin Maniac, we have quite a treat coming up soon. Lou from SoFlaMarlins has done offseason looks at payroll budget and arbitration expectations for the Marlins for a little while now, and last offseason I used some of those figures to examine the Marlins’ potential financial situation heading into 2011. You can check out Lou’s arbitration projections from 2009 heading into 2010 here for an example of his excellent work.

This season, I contacted Lou (on the advice of contributor John Herold) and asked him if he’d be willing to share his offseason payroll work with us this year, and he’s agreed to chip in once he finds the time to crunch the numbers. I’m very excited to see some of the work he brings into MM with his guest posts, and those should be coming soon. However, for now I’d like to preview the potential financial situation the Marlins will be facing in the 2011 season in terms of payroll. This idea for analysis has come off the news that the Fish will likely support a $50M payroll heading into next season and that one of their major targets, second baseman Dan Uggla, recently rejected an offer that would have affected 2011 and beyond.

Here’s a quick rundown via Cots Baseball Contracts as to what the Marlins’ 2011 salary obligations are. After the jump, we’ll run down some of the salary expectations and see how much the Marlins can fit into the 2011 budget.


The following players have guaranteed salaries in 2011:

Hanley Ramirez ($11M)
Josh Johnson ($7.75M)
Wes Helms ($1M)

I find the selection of names awfully funny, to be honest; wedged in with the team’s two biggest stars in Ramirez and Johnson is the gritty veteran Helms, who doesn’t look like the type of guy who deserves to have a deal for next season past the minimum. Nevertheless, this constitutes $19.75M in guaranteed money already tied up to Marlins next year.

Two big arbitration cases

Dan Uggla (3rd year, ~$10M estimate)
Ricky Nolasco (3rd year, ~$6M estimate)

Keep in mind that these numbers are rough estimates done with little research. The arbitration process is one heavily dependent on “comparable players,” and Lou will get into a little bit of that when he does his work on arbitration and payroll. Right now, I’m just estimating some numbers based off of generalities and what I’ve seen around the Internet. Uggla’s estimate seems to be in line with what everyone is saying, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that number goes up to $11M. Nolasco picked up approximately a 58% increase in salary when settling on his arbitration figure, and it wouldn’t surprise if the Marlins bumped him up a similar amount to make it an even $6M in his third go-around in arbitration. Keep in mind that Nolasco is a Super Two player, meaning he still has one more season of team control left despite this being his third year.

If we tack on these additional estimates, the Marlins payroll in 2011 would then stand at $35.75M.

Remaining arbitration cases

Anibal Sanchez (2nd year, ~$2.5M est.)
Leo Nunez (2nd year, ~$4M est.)
Clay Hensley (1st year, ~$1.1M est)
Burke Badenhop (1st year, ~$1M est)

I only listed the four players I most expected to see get arbitration awards this season. The Marlins have a few other guys like Andrew Miller, Jose Veras, and Ronny Paulino whom I expect will be non-tendered due to their lackluster performance. These estimates all seem acceptable, with Nunez being the only player on the list with a decent chance of not being on the 2011 roster due to a trade. The Marlins may opt to deal him if the $4M proves too high to handle for the Fish.

These additional four players would bump the payroll up to $44.35M, very close to our projected $50M mark.


The Marlins have six other players who are expected to play significant time in the majors who will be returning in pre-arbitration deals. I won’t provide the individual guesses at their prices, but I will say that these six guys (Chris Coghlan, Chris Volstad, Emilio Bonifacio, John Baker, Gaby Sanchez, and Brian Sanches) would be expected to earn a combined $2.68M, leaving the Marlins payroll at $47.0M with only 14 players currently accounted for on the 25-man roster.

In addition, there is some discrepancy regarding the status of Cameron Maybin. Cots has Maybin as arbitration-eligible for the first time this year, while Baseball-Reference has him still under pre-arbitrtation control. Given that Maybin has spent approximately one full season’s worth of time on the big league roster, I’d be inclined to say that he is still in pre-arbitrtation for at least another year. If so, then the Marlins will have 16 players locked in for about $47.4M in total. If not, then you’re looking at the Fish having those 16 players at $47.9M total.

Remaining spots

The remaining spots on the Marlins’ roster would go to players earning close to the league minimum and would primarily be on the bench and in the ravaged bullpen. A couple of players on the Marlins, such as Chad Tracy and Will Ohman, could return on mostly-cheap one-year deals, but if the Marlins have $50M targeted as a hard ceiling for payroll, they would probably have to shed an arbitration eligible player to get around that total. Still, if three of those remaining nine players make an average of $1M for 2011 and the remaining come in for the league minimum, the Marlins would be paying an additional $5.4M, putting their total payroll up to $53.3M, just above the target range.

Again, this is just a rough estimate with educated but quick estimates. Lou’s comp work coming up this offseason will be a better look at this aspect of the team, but I figured I’d shed some light on what the Marlins are going to be spending next season.