Today was the deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to exchange contract figures. The San Francisco Giants had thirteen arbitration eligible players to start the offseason, and back in October I reasoned that they should focus on eight of those players. About a month later, the team said they’d planned to retain nearly all of them.
They re-signed Scott Alexander and Mike Yastrzemski in November; and, after non-tendering Zack Littell, Jharel Cotton, and Jarlin Garcia, it left them with eight players, contract figures for which were agreed to today (MLB Trade Rumors arbitration figure prediction in parenthesis):
John Brebbia - $2.3MM ($1.9MM predicted)
Jakob Junis - $2.8MM ($3.3MM predicted)
Austin Slater - $3.2MM ($1.9MM predicted)
Thairo Estrada - $2.25MM ($2.4MM predicted)
J.D. Davis - $4.21MM ($3.8MM predicted)
LaMonte Wade Jr. - $1.375MM ($1.4MM predicted)
Tyler Rogers - $1.675MM ($1.8MM predicted)
Scott Alexander - $1.15MM ($1.1MM predicted)
Mike Yastrzemski - $6.1MM ($5.7MM predicted)
Logan Webb - $4.6MM ($4.8MM predicted)
MLB Trade Rumor’s arbitration formula has been pretty close to the mark for a while now, but in the case of some of these predictions, it wasn’t able to take into account each player’s utility to the Giants. The Austin Slater prediction vs. reality in particular is born of the Giants’ use/need more than his historical comps to similarly performing arbitration eligible players.
In any case, today’s haul cost the Giants $25.06MM on a predicted $23.3 million, which isn’t some sort of negative — these are solid depth players to have on a roster. Between Alexander, Brebbia, Davis, Estrada, Junis, Rogers, Slaters, Wade, and Yastrzemski, there’s probably a floor of about 7-8 wins above replacement and a ceiling of 14-15. The team’s Competitive Balance Tax payroll (based on AAV and not real dollars) rises to $212.3MM.
One player noticeably absent here, whose name I’ve been waiting all day to see so that I can finally finish this piece, is the Giants’ de facto pitching ace, Logan Webb. MLBTR projected a $4.8 million salary figure for Webb, eligible for arbitration for the first time. That’s coming off of back-to-back 4-fWAR seasons, so that price would seem to present a considerable bargain.
Now, I’m typing this in hopes that as soon as I publish, some sort of deal might be announced, but there’s at least a nonzero chance that the Giants are trying to work out a contract extension beyond arb year one. I’m not sure I see the value in simply prepaying for his next two years of arbitration and I think I’m in a “prove it” state with the Giants when it comes to signing a pitcher to a deal longer than three seasons anyway. For Webb, it’s hard to see how it would help him to let the Giants buy up his arbitration and possibly first couple of years of free agency (a 5-year $80-$90 million deal, for instance, would still be an incredibly generous deal for Webb to gift the team).
If Webb and the Giants couldn’t come to some sort of agreement, then an arbitration hearing will be scheduled for some time during Spring Training. Players and teams have up until the “trial” begins to get a deal done — handshakes have happened literally right outside the hearing room doors moments before cases commence — but, we’ll see. If this does wind up going to a hearing, then we’ll have some preseason drama to cover. Until then, why borrow trouble?
With Webb added to that bunch, the floor is about 10-12 wins with a ceiling of 18-20. I’m hoping something gets announced as soon as I hit publish.
3:00 PM UPDATE: It worked!
Sources: Logan Webb, Giants settle at $4.6 million, avoiding arbitration.— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 13, 2023