Cardinals news from a Sabermetric point of view

Cardinals say goodbye to McClellan, free up some payroll

Bye-ku for Kyle McClellan
Reliever, starter
Did whatever team asked him
Local boy made good

With the news today that the Cardinals released Kyle McClellan to presumably trim some fat from the payroll (no weight joke intended), let’s check in on the team’s payroll flexibility for 2013. K-Mac was  coming into his third arbitration year after earning $2.5 million last year, so that’s a savings of around that much (assuming a replacement of a league minimum salary). It’s as much an acknowledgement of the influx of talented young right-handed relievers that the team will use next year, but of course every penny helps.

Prior to McClellan’s jettisoning, Baseball-reference.com pegged the team’s estimated total payroll for 2013 at $114 million. That takes into account commitments of existing contracts, plus options, arbitration cases* and filler costs. Of that $114 million, the team is committed to $89.5 million; that is to say that around 79% of its payroll is already locked in.

No one outside the actual teams knows exactly what their payrolls will be in 2013 (and even then, they often have only a fuzzy idea), but assuming a league-wide 5% growth (payrolls grew 6.6% from 2011 to 2012 and 2.9% from 2010 to 2011), we can at least project some ballpark figures. Combining those projections with Baseball-references’ payroll data, we can then visualize which teams may have room to spend this winter (payrolls in millions):

The Cardinals may have a bit of spending room (the little green bar). Compared to their main rival, the Reds, who are already “overcommitted” relative to their projected total based on their 2012 payroll ($112.4 million to $84.3), the Cardinals may have an advantage.

* B-Ref evidently calculates arbitration cases according to the following averages:

Arb year $mil
1 2.5
2 3.75
3 5.25

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.