Projecting The Rangers’ 2017 Payroll

It pains me to be talking about the Rangers’ 2017 payroll already, but with a disappointing showing in the postseason, the offseason is here.

Over the next several weeks, many writers here at Shutdown Inning will be throwing out their offseason predictions. Predictions like who stays, who goes and who is fired, or even who gets traded, signed,  non-tendered, or leaves as a free agent.

However, before we head down that path, we first need to know what kind of bankroll the Rangers are working with. Texas does have guaranteed commitments for 2017 along with estimated arbitration and club control contracts.

The best thing we can do, at this time, is an estimate.

As a disclaimer, I will say that this is nothing more than an estimate. When calculating club control guys, I used a single, exact number for each player. Some guys will make more than the arbitrary figure and some will make less. The assumption is that the overall number is relatively close to what the actual number will be.

So let’s go ahead and start with what know to be a fact – seven players are under guaranteed contracts for 2016: (see below for Prince Fielder breakdown)

Shin-Soo Choo ($20M)

Elvis Andrus ($15M)

Cole Hamels ($23.5M)

Adrian Beltre ($18M)

Martin Perez ($4.4M)

Yu Darvish ($11M)

Tony Barnette ($1.75M)

Total cost of guaranteed contracts= $93.65M 

The following two players have team options that will more than likely be picked up. If they aren’t, we can subtract their salary from the grand total.

Derek Holland ($11M or $1.5M buyout)

Jonathan Lucroy ($5.25M or $25K buyout)

Total cost of option contracts= $16.25M 

The following players are in some form of arbitration eligible years with their estimated 2016 salary and MLB Service time in parenthesis. Estimated salaries are courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors

Tanner Scheppers (4.094) – $1.1M

Robinson Chirinos (4.103) – $2.1M

Jake Diekman (4.050) – $2.6M

Jurickson Profar (3.124) – $1.1M

Jeremy Jeffress (3.077) – $2.9M

A.J. Griffin (4.034) $1.9M

Sam Dyson (2.142) $3.9M (qualifies as a Super Two player)

Total estimated cost of arbitration cases= $15.6M

The Rangers are going to keep most of those guys and in doing so, will need to pay them. However, A.J. Griffin is a toss up but will probably stay because the team needs pitching depth. So for the sake of argument, let’s assume everyone gets paid.

Then some guys are under club control who get paid the bottom dollar because the organization controls their rights. They are not eligible for arbitration until after three years of MLB service time — two years in some instances, but that’s another article.

Those guys include Nomar MazaraJoey Gallo, Andrew Faulkner, Luke JacksonNick Martinez, Rougned Odor, Ryan RuaChi Chi GonzalezKeone KelaHanser Alberto, Alex Claudio, Dario Alvarez, Matt Bush, Jose Leclerc, Yohander Mendez, Connor Sadzeck, Brett Nicholas, Jared Hoying and Delino DeShields.

For the sake of estimation, I used an average salary of $530,000 per player, which might actually be a little cheap but gives you a conservative estimate. I have a feeling that Luke Jackson and/or Dario Alvarez won’t be Rangers in 2017 but their combined salary of $1.6M doesn’t make that big of a difference, so we’ll leave them in for the sake of conservatism. This also assumes that Texas doesn’t give Odor a new contract.

Total cost of club control players= $10.07M

There are also guys not currently on the 40 man but still get paid – Prince Fielder, Lucas Harrell, and Shawn Tolleson. Those fellas are currently on the 60 Day DL. However, unless Tolleson and/or Harrell are non-tendered, they too will get paid.

Harrell is projected at $1.7M in arbitration and Tolleson is expected at $3.6M.

Fielder is an interesting story. The Rangers have to put him on the 40 man roster through the winter. Then they can put him back on the 60-Day DL once the season begins. However, they are still on the hook for roughly $9M a year for the duration of his contract. This is assuming they get $9M in insurance money to go along with the $6M from Detroit. So his $24M contract minus the $15M in kickbacks brings the total to $9M. So while he is a guaranteed contract, he currently fits this description so we’ll count him here.

Add another $14.3M

That gives you a grand total of $149.87M for 2017 with 38 players. That is slightly below last year’s $158.95M Opening Day payroll. Now some of these guys could start the year on the DL which would reduce the number of players on the 40 man roster but would still count against the payroll. There are free agents and trades which could affect both the roster and the payroll, but this is what we now right now.

Your free agents are Carlos Gomez, Ian Desmond, Colby Lewis, Mitch Moreland and Carlos Beltran. It’s entirely possible that Gomez and Lewis are back. I don’t think Desmond is back because there will be cheaper options (Gomez) to play centerfield and will probably provide better defense. Beltran may come back at some veteran premium, but I don’t think it’s likely.

The Rangers have increased payroll ever year since 2008 with this year being a massive $17M increase over the 2015 Opening Day payroll. However, if the Rangers’ plan is not drastically to increase payroll, then the team will not look that much different than it does now. Of course, trades could play a significant factor in how the payroll shakes out by the time April rolls around.

Keep in mind that this is my best guess at estimated payroll and everything minus the guaranteed contracts are estimations. Some guys may not be back that I assumed would be and vice versa. This at least gives you an idea as to what the Rangers are looking at moving forward this offseason.

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Billy Casey
Billy is a baseball fanatic and has been around the game since he was four years old. The first ever game he attended was in September of '89 and Pete Incaviglia denied him an autograph after he had a bad batting practice session. Billy has held a grudge since. Billy is also a baseball coach who is known to dance around the dugout like Ron Washington during big plays in the game.

One comment


    So have at least $10M to spend…and another ~$12M on top of that, assuming Holland and Tolleson are gone (which I think is a batter assumption than keeping them)

    I also think you have to assume some year-on-year increase in payroll; flat to no increase in not reasonable given the team’s revenue growth and the fact they are marketing a new ball park.

    A 3% increase in total payroll — which is modest in any business– gives them another $5M.

    So the Rangers are knocking on $30M in spending to invest. Which is not too bad, given the core of the team.

    Who/what to spend that on is another matter

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