MLB Trade Rumors recently came out with their arbitration projections for this coming offseason and if they’re as accurate as they usually are, the team shouldn’t be reaching too deeply into their purses.
The site has listed only 4 current players as having arbitration-related salaries for next year: Cody Asche, Jeanmar Gomez, Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis. Of course, Darin Ruf, Jimmy Paredes, Luis Garcia and Emmanuel Burriss are also arbitration eligible, but the site (smartly) leaves them off, assuming they’ll be non-tendered, which is a pretty safe assumption. Here are the projected raises for each:
Gomez - $4.6 million (+$3.2 million from 2016)
Galvis - $4.4 million (+2.4 million)
Hernandez - $2.5 million (+2 million)
Asche - $1.3 million (+500,000)
Now, I am no economics expert. I have no idea if these are correctly chosen predictions or if they are by the whimsy of the person doing the calculations. Judging solely by the minimal raises given to each, they all seem fairly reasonable, given their contributions to the team this season. While each player has his faults, you could argue that they are all worth hanging on to at these projected salaries.
Even with Gomez’s late season meltdown, getting an effective reliever at this price is still leaning toward the “bargain” side of the odometer. 2018 might be a different story. If Galvis is able to approach, or even improve on, his numbers from 2016, $4.4 million will seem a steal, particularly at the trading deadline. For all the gnashing of teeth Hernandez caused the Phillies’ faithful, he was a 3 WAR player this year. At $2.5 million, THAT is a bargain.
The most interesting case, to me, of the bunch is Asche. There are many people who are not the biggest fans of his, partly because he has not
turned into Utley-lite blossomed like they wanted to, and has the odor of unfulfilled promise. However, think about what Asche can bring to the table next year.
In 2016, he played two different positions in the field (left field and third base). He wasn’t great defensively at either, but could best described as “serviceable” at both. There have been some whispers of his learning first base and right field, especially when he was demoted in mid-August this season. Were he to continue that this spring, the team then has a player who could play four positions on the field, albeit below average defensively, in case of injury. He’d also be available as a left handed bat off of the bench against some of the tougher right handed relief specialists that are coming through the league now. All of this coming at a relative pittance of a shade over $1 million.
In this current era where versatility is valued, it’s a very positive thing for Asche to be able to play multiple positions. If he is able to improve offensively to become even a league average hitter, then the team really has something to work with.
The question remains: is he worth it? Utility players are usually expected to fill in at shortstop and/or center field and Asche can do neither. If J.P. Crawford arrives this season, and Galvis/Hernandez are both here, they will slide into the utility role and Asche is left on the outside. Does the team want to even begin the season like that?
Asche’s fate likely will be determined this spring. It’s probably expected that he’ll be offered arbitration and will be in Clearwater in February. The hope is that multiple players out-play him, rendering his position on the roster obsolete. Should he wish to remain with the club, he’d do well to embrace the bench role and work at pinch hitting. If he’s able to produce in that role and with his projected salary, the team could have a low cost option at the ready at any time.