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Rockies avoid arbitration with all eligible players. What does that mean for the payroll?

Colorado Rockies news and analysis for Sunday, January 17, 2021

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Yesterday, Justin concluded his Rockpile with updates from the arbitration filing deadline. In a bit of good news, the Rockies reached agreements with each of their arbitration eligible players, so there will be no arbitration hearings like last year with Tony Wolters. Here’s a roundup of all the figures.

Sites like MLB Trade Rumors do an admirable job projecting arbitration salaries (and are often exceptionally close to the actual salaries), but this year was particularly tricky coming off a 60-game season. Thus, their model produced three different projections per player based on various methods. The actual salaries were often within one or the other of these projections, though Daniel Bard’s $2.925 million was well above MLBTR’s highest projection of $2.2 million.

Arbitration represents one of the biggest flex points in projecting a team’s payroll at the start of the offseason. Now that the Rockies have completed their arbitration process, what does the payroll look like?

Rockies Projected 2021 Payroll

Nolan Arenado $35.00
Charlie Blackmon $21.00
Trevor Story $18.50
Ian Desmond $8.00
German Márquez $7.80
Jon Gray* $6.00
Kyle Freeland* $5.03
Mychal Givens* $4.05
Scott Oberg $4.00
Antonio Senzatela* $3.00
Daniel Bard* $2.93
Ryan McMahon* $2.38
Raimel Tapia* $1.95
Carlos Estevez* $1.45
Elias Diaz* $1.20
Jairo Diaz* $1.10
Robert Stephenson* $0.81
TOTAL $121.08
Daniel Murphy $6.0
Jake McGee $2.0
Bryan Shaw $2.0
Wade Davis $1.0
TOTAL $10.0
Minimum salaries $9.1
* = Arbitration eligible, agreed to terms; Roster Resource/Fangraphs

The Rockies projected payroll at this time last year was $160 million, an increase on 2019’s $153 million. At this point, the Rockies are predictably cutting salary from year’s past (thanks in large part to the Super Bullpen coming off the books). Right now, the projected payroll stands at $137 million. If you include the buyouts paid to outgoing free agents Daniel Murphy, Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw, and Wade Davis, the Rockies will be paying players $147 million (The Super Bullpen: the gift that keeps on giving).

As the projection systems released thus far have shown us, this is not a roster that figures to be competing for division (or perhaps even Wild Card) titles without massive internal improvements. But given the lack of revenue from the pandemic and Dick Monfort’s veiled warning that the Rockies won’t be big spenders on the free agent market, I, for one, am not holding my breath for a big free agent signing.

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Will some free agents fall into the Rockies price range? | Roxpile

Noah Yingling boldly asks the big question here. He takes a look at the Rockies current projected payroll and the free agent market after the DJ LeMahieu signing to see if the team will seek to improve via free agency.

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