Diamondbacks Spring Training Day 1
With the new CBA signed, sealed and delivered last night, today was the first day of practice for the Diamondbacks’ Major League 40-man roster. Although not all the players are in camp, those who were here are a feast for the eyes. Here are some excerpts and photos from the morning.
As the Diamondbacks baseball operations department heads into this super-compressed window to complete their roster, it looks like they have about $10-20 million to work with.
Yesterday Derrick Hall said he expected payrolls to be between over 90 million and possibly as high as 105 million. I reached out and asked for clarification on whether it was a payout this year or the number used for CBT. Note that the CBT number includes things like player benefits (insurance etc.) and bonuses, but also uses the average annual salary for multi-year contracts, not necessarily the amount paid in that calendar year . In other words, there are two different numbers. The numbers we usually see in the public domain are just the salary numbers and not the final CBT number.
Derrick answered my question by responding that the 90-105 number he gave was:
“All expenses including insurance, benefits, DL, etc., we’re down to around $85-90 now”
With this information I am able to determine where they are and find the available number of 10-20 million above.
a. It’s not clear of course if they count all of Bumgarner’s 23m, as 5m is deferred, but it’s believed the money still needs to be specially funded, so it’s included here
b. There are 19 players listed here. The minimum then required to fill a 26-man roster would be 7 million players at the league minimum. Of course, if they sign or trade for a player who sits at 26 million, that number drops by 700,000 accordingly.
vs. DL calls occur. These players receive a pro-rated MLB minimum wage for days on the active roster. 40 players on the men’s roster also receive a minimum minor league salary of $57,200 for freshman players; $114,100 for those following. So about $5 million is counted in these two categories
Based on this accounting and Hall’s comments, Mike Hazen’s absolute maximum flexibility is then $20 million (the difference between roughly $85 million and $105 million). However, it’s just as likely that they’re really closer to the $90 million already committed and capped at $100 million, meaning Hazen would only have $10 million to spend. So that’s your range.
It’s not a lot. As recently as 2018, the “all-in” number for all player spending reached $158 million. But in 12 of the 16 seasons since 2005, the D-Backs have trailed the league’s average spend for player spending as a percentage of revenue. (see below) Two years they were above (2014 and 2018) and two years slightly below average (2013 and 2019).
There has been a major pullback since the 2018 payroll peaks, and not everything can be blamed on the pandemic. While I really appreciate Derrick’s transparency, and it’s more or less what we’ve been expecting for a long time, the 90-105M figure is still a bit disappointing.
(Green is DBacks, black is MLB Avg)
We were able to speak with Josh Rojas and Carson Kelly today. Both players echoed the sentiment that when the lockdown started they intended to end it quickly and ‘I’ll take whatever I want’. But as they became more educated about how things really worked, they expressed greater understanding and also gratitude to some of the senior members of the union for leading, educating and unifying them.
Rojas addressed the rule changes coming next year, saying he doesn’t care about the pitch clock and when playing with an AA players get used to it very quickly. He didn’t look crazy to ban the shift.
He also opened up about his off-season shoulder surgery, saying he’s had a pretty big ‘cleanse’ as he’s been bone to bone. He was in pain at the end of last year and it definitely affected his potency. But it feels good now, free and easy.
Kelly also said he was feeling fine, last year’s wrist and toe injuries didn’t bother him at all.
AUDIO INTERVIEW WITH JOSH ROJAS
AUDIO OF CARSON KELLY’S INTERVIEW
I also had a casual chat with Pavin with another writer. It looked a little bigger and fuller. Hopefully that means more power too! He was delighted to be at camp of course, big smiles all around.