The guys over at MLBTradeRumors.com do a great job with their salary projections for arbitration-eligible players. The projected salaries I am going to use in this piece are all from their site, and I am simply going to give my opinions on whether or not the player will be worth keeping around for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Garrett Jones was already designated for assignment, so this is a moot point, but he was projected to earn $5.3 million. Before being DFA’d, he was an obvious non-tender candidate due to his high projected salary and terrible performance in 2013. Bringing Jones back would have been an awful decision. Second baseman Neil Walker is projected to earn $4.8 million in 2014. Despite being injury prone in recent seasons, Walker’s on-field performance is still better than the average second baseman. In 2013, Walker hit for a .251/.339/.418 slash line with a 114 wRC+. He was slightly above average defensively.
Paying $4.8 million to an above average player at his position is never a bad idea. Walker should, and will be back.
Pedro Alvarez may be the biggest bargain of all for the Pirates. He is projected to make just $4 million in 2014 after hitting .233/.296/.473 with 36 home runs in 2013. He will soon become too expensive for the Pirates to keep around, but for now, the Pirates can sleep easy knowing they have a slugger on their roster making just $4 million. Charlie Morton is projected to make $3.9 million in 2014 as the Pirates’ third or fourth starter. If he repeats his 2013 season in 2014, then he will be a huge bargain. Last season, Morton pitched to a 3.26 ERA while forcing well over half of the balls put in play against him to be on the ground.
Two relievers for the Pirates are eligible for arbitration. They will both be potential bargains. Mark Melancon is projected to make $3 million and Vin Mazzaro is projected to make $800,000. Melancon was an All-Star in 2013 and Mazzaro was a critical piece of the Pirates’ great bullpen. I could see one or both of these players being traded before 2014, however.
Gaby Sanchez is projected to make $2.3 million and he will be back. He crushed lefties in 2013; if manager Clint Hurdle uses Sanchez against lefties in 2014, he will surely be worth his salary. Michael McKenry will likely make $900,000 in 2014 as the third catcher for the Pirates and will probably be playing in Triple-A. It is hard to see a scenario in which he won’t be back, and at just $900,000, he is worth keeping around.
Finally, Travis Snider is likely going to be non-tendered. He is projected to make $1.4 million in arbitration, but he won’t be getting that because there isn’t a place for him on the Pirates’ roster.