Payroll impact of Tigers’ winter meetings trades
The on-field impact of Thursday’s trades for Yoenis Cespedes and Alfredo Simon has had a chance to air out. The financial impact really has not, and it might be a little different than you think.
All three major players in the deals — Cespedes, Simon and Rick Porcello — are in line to become free agents after this season. So in terms of long-term obligations, nothing has changed. For 2015, however, payroll has gone up. The impact of the bump depends on how much you expected the Tigers to spend on their outfield void.
The one guaranteed salary belongs to Cespedes, who’s due to make $10.5 million next year in his final season of arbitration. Both Porcello and Simon are eligible for arbitration one last time — Simon as a third-year eligible, Porcello as a fourth-year eligible thanks to his qualification as a super-two player a few years ago.
That super-two designation is huge for Porcello, who avoided arbitration last offseason with an $8.5 million deal. With 15 wins, three shutouts and 204 2/3 innings pitched in 2014, he’s in line for a major bump. Each fall, Matt Swartz uses case history and stats to project salaries for arbitration-eligible players on MLB Trade Rumors, and his track record is fairly good. The projections have Porcello in line for a $12.2 million salary in 2015.
Simon, too, is due for a big raise. However, because he spent most of his career as a reliever until this past season, he’s in line for a major raise from a comparatively smaller salary. He made $1.5 million this year. MLB Trade Rumors projects those digits to flip, earning him $5.1 million in 2015.
Wilson has just over a year of service time, and will make somewhere around the minimum salary for 2015. Take those players into consideration, and the Tigers take on just over $16 million in salary while shedding Porcello’s $12.2 million projection, thus adding a few million to the payroll. That said, if Detroit hadn’t made the deal and signed a free-agent outfielder of some impact, it likely would’ve ended up with a larger payroll. Cespedes’ salary is about the same as what Torii Hunter will make in Minnesota next year. (Update: Melky Cabrera reportedly agreed to a 3-year, $42 million deal with the White Sox late Saturday night.)
I’m not counting Eugenio Suarez’s salary as a savings, mainly because there was no guarantee for him making the Tigers roster in 2015 with Jose Iglesias expected back from injury and Andrew Romine and Hernan Perez both out of options and in competition for a utility spot.
The only long-term impact could come in the draft. The Tigers would have received a compensation pick in 2016 had Porcello left as a free agent. That’s now gone, and they won’t receive a pick if Cespedes signs somewhere else next winter. Cespedes’ contract forbids his team from making a qualifying offer.