The beauty of financial flexibility

With the help of Cot's Baseball Contracts Page, I spent some time putting together the Royals fiscal data for this year and next. And as I have said in previous posts, the Royals' financial situation is looking great. After this season, the Royals will drop ALL of their dead weight contracts, and the majority of their remaining roster will consist of players making slightly above the Major League minimum. Without further delay, I present the table:

Player2005 salary (in mil.$)2006 Royals commitment (in mil.$)Probable 25-man - 2006

There are a few things about this table that I must explain. First, all salaries have been rounded to two decimal places, which will affect to a small degree the totals. Regardless, the difference is not all that significant. Second, the Royals financial commitment for 2006 only includes what the Royals are required to pay the players they bring back, and therefore does not include the small raises that they customarily give to their young players. Again, the difference should not be all that significant.

Essentially what we're looking at -- once Affeldt's and Hernandez's contracts are hammered out -- is a base payroll of around $18-19 million. With the departures of Terrence Long, Eli Marrero, Jose Lima, Scott Sullivan, Tony Graffanino, Matt Stairs, Brian Anderson, and Alberto Castillo, the Royals will save $17.25 million. Of course, those departures also leave them with roughly 10 holes to fill on their 25-man roster.

And here what I see as a possible 25-man roster for 2006, complete with salaries. I didn't fill a couple holes, and I refuse to speculate on what the two arbitration eligible players might receive.

PositionPlayer2006 committed salary (approx in mil.$)
Total------$19.16 million

That roster includes some admittedly controversial selections. First, I'd like to see the Royals fill their backup catcher and utility infield spots with players from their minor league system. Matt Tupman turned some heads in spring training, and he's taken that into this season, performing pretty well at Wichita (.286/.388/.339). There's really no reason to keep a veteran like Castillo around when a younger, cheaper, better option is available within the system.

As for the utility infield spots, I love the idea of having an infield triumvirate of Ruben Gotay, Donald Murphy, and Mike Aviles. Murphy is a great defensive 2B who can play any infield position, and Aviles can play either SS or 3B. I envision a Murphy/Gotay platoon at second base, with Aviles serving as the regular utility infielder. In addition, Murphy would be a fine defensive replacement for Gotay in the late innings. Aviles has done nothing but hit during his minor league career, and there's no reason to suspect that he couldn't put up numbers at least on par with what our current utility infielders, Joe McEwing and Tony Graffanino, have done during their careers.

The rest of the roster is fairly self-explanatory. Justin Huber will split time with Mike Sweeney at 1B and DH, and the pitching rotation will be young but talented. The remaining two holes to be filled are both in the outfield, and it may be possible for the Royals to fill one of them with Mitch Maier. Nevertheless, I'm not going to pencil him in just yet, although I do anticipate he'll be in KC before the 2005 season is over.

Ultimately, it would be possible for the Royals to fill all but two outfield spots and their two arbitration cases for under $20 million. And the funniest thing about all of that is that this 2006 team would actually be better than the current version. If the Royals chose to do so, they could use that money to sign a free agent power-hitting outfielder, or a quality innings-eating starter. But really, I don't think there's any need to do so before the 2006 season, unless the Royals think they'll be ready to compete next year. I think they still will probably need one more year of development.

And finally, to show that this financial flexibility extends beyond 2006, take a look at the current projected Opening Day 2007 lineup:

PositionPlayer2007 salary (approx in mil.$)
Total-----$16.49 million

Not only does that lineup look awesome, but it's also dirt cheap. And that, folks, is a formula for small market success. I'm excited.


At 6/12/2005 10:24 PM, Anonymous Brian S. said...

I like where you are going mostly, but disagree just a bit. 1) Not sure you want a backup C who cannot top .400 SLG% in hitters park in AA. 2) Joe McEwing would make a good hardnosed ut and surely would resign for similar price. Keep Murphy in minors until he forces his way on team. 3) Sweeney should eventually be dealt this season. 4) Where is Snyder in plans? KC is sending him to Omaha on his rehab to get stretch back into SP. 5) At some point in '06 you should see Butler and probably even Gordon--if he signs soon--ala Mark Texiera.

At 6/12/2005 10:52 PM, Blogger Dave said...

1)Tupman was just a suggestion. The whole point was that he couldn't be much worse than the .203/.250/.339 we're getting from out current backup catcher, but he'd certainly be cheaper. I also view Paul Phillips and Scott Walter as possibilities as well.

2)McEwing may be hard-nosed, but he is simply not talented. The Royals would be a better team with Aviles, Gotay, and Murphy, and there will be more than enough at bats to go around to justify having each of them on the Major League roster next year.

3)One of the things that I hoped this table would show is exactly how unneccesary it is to trade Sweeney. The Royals can easily afford to overpay for Sweeney by the $3-4 million that they are currently overpaying him. I honestly don't think Sweeney is going anywhere, unless Baird can complete a trade that actually improves the team in BOTH the short term and long term. That's still not very likely.

4)Snyder may very well be in the plans, but I left him off because I think the guys I listed are better options. It's been a long time since Snyder showed anybody anything.

5)I agree. I expect both Butler and Gordon to make their KC debuts sometime in 2006.

Thanks for the comments, and keep reading!

At 6/12/2005 11:11 PM, Blogger Joe Bazinet said...

Nice work. I completely agree with KC holding onto Sweeney. Unless they can pull off a trade bringing back significant quality (which I doubt), I don't see the upside in dealing Mike. I do think that your outline for the future represents a best case scenario though. Either Butler or Gordon could hit bumps on the way to the minors. I also think that Butler may end up having to play 1B/DH in the majors. At this point, I'm pulling for Maier to be the future in one corner and Gordon in the other.

At 6/13/2005 10:51 AM, Blogger cfos said...

Great work, I may somewhat disagree with you on filling backup/utility roles with minor leaugers (I would prefer they play everyday for development) but your points are valid and I love the salary flexibility we have in the next few years.

At 6/13/2005 11:47 AM, Blogger ME said...

I've always thought that holding onto Sweeney wouldn't be a problem because he is the only thing keeping their payroll over 30 million.

At 6/13/2005 12:02 PM, Blogger wadephillips said...


I like what the Royals did when they redone Berroa's contract. I liked the concept, it may be that it should not ave been given to .288 OBP knothead, but the intentions were great. Do you or an of the hundreds of staffers at RC headquarters see this happening in the near future with a Dejesus, Affedlt, etc.?

Can you use your clout in the media to get the Royals in discussions with the D-Rays reagarding a Ken Harvey for anything trade?

Does RC feel Mr. Baird should make a phone call to Reds about the demoted Austin Kearns based on the potential he showed in 02 and 03?


At 6/13/2005 1:05 PM, Blogger Dave said...

The important thing about the Royals financial flexibility is that they WILL be able to sign a good deal of their younger players to contracts like Berroa's. And the first two I would lock up are DeJesus and Zack Greinke. The key to doing so would be securing the first year or two of free agency for both players. RC's crack team is on the case in an attempt to find out if such negotiations are ongoing.

Despite our considerable clout, RC has thus far failed to convince even the media that Harvey is a worthless player. But we would be ecstatic if Harvey were able to bring in, say, a Jonny Gomes.

And finally, RC thinks someone should swallow the Dan O'Brien's business card, to keep RC Hero Allard Baird from calling him about Austin Kearns. While we wouldn't be terribly disappointed with an Affeldt-for-Kearns straight up deal, we wouldn't be all that excited about it either. It's been quite a while since Kearns did anything worth noting.

At 6/13/2005 1:11 PM, Blogger Topekafan said...

Your 2007 list doesn't even include Maier, Lubanski, or Blanco -- three other exciting young guys that should make a difference. Our future does look bright! I would hope that by 2007 we're paying DeJesus more than $320,000. I'd like to keep that guy happy, and he deserves a higher salary. Sweeney is the one guy here that we can build around.

At 6/13/2005 1:24 PM, Blogger Dave said...

DeJesus, Buck, Teahen, and Gotay will all definitely be earning more than the Major League minimum in 2007. My point is that it's not required, and therefore the only "committed" dollars thus far is the minimum salary required to keep them. The Royals own all four players' rights through 2007, and none will likely have even reached arbitration by then (Buck and DeJesus may be close, though -- it's dependent upon where they rank in service time among all other players with 2+ years of service time, so they may both be classified as "Super Twos.").

It's customary for the Royals to give unrequired raises to their young players during their first three years of service. For instance, they gave Greinke a pretty nice raise prior to this season, and they were under no obligation to do so. I would expect them to do the same with those four guys, but since I don't know what those raises will be, I couldn't include them in the tables.

At 6/13/2005 2:34 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Hm, nice table. Nice article. Good job.

Kevin and I have been saying for quite a while that 2007 will be the first year to make a run, and your findings seem to support that. I'm assuming that any big name free agents signed before 2006 will be because there is an opportunity to sign a quality player that will help the team in years beyond 2006, not specifically to make a run that year.

At 6/13/2005 3:14 PM, Blogger Dave said...

I did notice one thing that may be incorrect. When I originally put this spreadsheet together, I had assumed we owned the rights to Emil Brown beyond this season. But I think that was wrong, and I think Brown will actually be a free agent again after this season (I meant to go back and change that before posting it, but oh well).

If that's the case, then clearly it will take more than $360K to re-sign him -- but again, it shouldn't affect the total more than a few hundred thousand dollars, assuming we do sign him again.

At 6/13/2005 6:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've convinced me--Sweeney needs to stay unless someone offers a LOT to Baird.

At 6/15/2005 12:29 AM, Anonymous Brian S. said...

I know we may not deal Sweeney because no body wants him w/o Glass picking up some of his salary and we all know Glass won't do that.

But, I am saying the Royals should pick up some of that salary IF it means we CAN get major league ready prospects.

IF we keep him, I say fine, but we have to call up Huber at some time and let them job share 1B/DH ala Harvey/Sweeney.

Dave, you have good points and an excellent blog, but I agree w/ cfos in regards to utility players. Lets face it, Murphy et al, is probably better than McEwing, but not nearly as flexible defensively and young guys HAVE to play everyday.

Keep up the good work.

At 7/01/2005 6:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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