2010/2011 Offseason Schedule and Handbook Part Four: Arbitration and 40 Man Roster Construction

Below is the fourth of five articles I will be writing in the offseason laying out exactly what is going to be happening in the organization during the offseason, and when. This fourth section will detail with the upcoming arbitration process, and give a brief introduction to the theory behind roster construction, which won't be finalized until the day before opening day.

Previous Editions:
Part One: Free Agency
Part Two: Meetings and Procedure
Part Three: The Reserves Deadline and Rule 5 Draft

All of these procedures here are finished, but they remain listed above for reference.

A brief introduction to arbitration: while between 3 and 5.171 years of MLB service time, all unsigned MLB players are still under team control, but are given the opportunity to submit a desired salary number for consideration, hence the arbitration process. Other players allowed into the process include outgoing free agents who accepted arbitration offers, of which the Rockies have zero, and players who are in the top 17% of service time underneath 3 years, known as Super 2s, of which the Rockies have two.

Five of the Rockies 40 man roster players are eligible automatically for arbitration this year:
- RHP Matt Belisle
- RHP Jason Hammel
- RHP Matt Lindstrom
- RHP Felipe Paulino (Super 2)
- IF Ian Stewart (Super 2)

I have read some articles indicating that Jose Lopez is eligible, but this is not likely the case; Jose Lopez was reported to have already agreed to a $3.6 million salary contract for 2011. For some reason, this is going largely unreported.

Now, most arbitration cases never actually go far enough to reach a hearing, particularly in our organization, though it does happen on occasion for us, as with Brian Fuentes in 2008. Up until the hearing process begins near the end of the month, teams will be negotiating with these players and will likely compromise on a figure. If one of these players does take the process to a hearing, both the player and the team will submit a figure and an arbitration panel will decide which of the two figures will be paid (only one of the two figures will be used, they cannot redistribute the money offers).

All five of these players will likely be getting raises, though with the exception of the two first-year Super 2s, I wouldn't expect any salaries to more than double at worst, and in the case of Hammel and Lindstrom, probably not come anywhere close to that. Stewart and Paulino will be getting paid above minimum for the first time in their careers. Hammel, who earned $1.9 million in 2010 as a Super 2 last year, and Lindstrom, who earned $1.625 in 2010, will be entering their second years. Belisle is entering what will most likely be his final year of arbitration before free agency eligibility, but he needs to be on the active roster for most of the year. He earned just $850,000 last year.

Purple Row's own Jeff Aberle made some arbitration predictions in his Nov 4th State of the Rockies article, here. The layout of the team has changed somewhat, but the figures for the players who were currently here at the time remain relevant.

Players will begin filing tomorrow, January 5th, with arbitration figures from both sides due by the 18th. Teams and players can continue to negotiate all the way up until hearings, however, which will be scheduled in the early part in the month of February, before Spring Training begins if necessary.

I would expect most of these players to agree to terms sometime over the next 21 days, though extreme disagreements will have to wait longer and may even go to hearing.

After the jump, I will begin discussing basic 40 Man Roster construction, which will lead into the final offseason handbook post in a few weeks.

Traditionally, the 25 Man Roster consists of eight starting position players, five reserve ("bench") players, five starting pitchers, and seven relievers, particularly on NL teams not in need of a DH. There are always potential alterations to this, based on the schedule, on the players' contracts and other factors.

In the final post of this series, I'll be taking specific looks at the players in contest for each spot. For now, I will illustrate the spots that will likely need to be filled by the opening day roster. As of now, the starting position players and the rotation seem the most pre-determined, with the bench players the least determined. One must keep in mind when constructing a 25 man roster that each position should have at least two players that can play each position, three if you can. This is not likely to be too much a problem for the Rockies, who have a variety of players who can play multiple positions. At the same time, this can complicate the shuffle significantly, as situations using various kinds of diverse utility players must be considered.

The Rockies' 40 Man Roster is currently full, meaning newer acquisitions or non-roster invitees making the team may provide extra problems. As of now, I think that 23 of the 25 spots are pretty much set, and there are solutions to the 2 extra spots already available on the 40 Man Roster, which means that it's likely all of our players come from within already.

When it comes to pitching, there's almost always room for surprises when it comes to relief. That said, the bullpen is crowded right now. We're definitely going to be going with seven relievers as per usual. When it comes to the rotation, I'm convinced that only injury will change its composition, no matter how many articles we read about Hammel's spot being on the bubble. A re-acquisition of Jeff Francis may complicate things though.

As we get closer to the Spring (pitchers and catchers report, believe it or not, is just six and a half weeks away) and have a more complete look at where the team stands in regard to the players on the roster and anybody on the NRI list, I will post the final article, breaking down each roster spot individually. It'll be a long one.

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