How much do the Brewers have to spend?

With tomorrow (Tuesday) being the start of the free agent signing period, I thought I’d take a look at what Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin has to work with in terms of payroll.
For our purposes, I am going to assume that Brewers’ principal owner Mark Attanasio has set a 2008 player payroll budget of $75 million. This would be up slightly from the $72 million or so spent last year–and could increase even further–but, for now, let’s assume that the budget hasn’t appreciated substantially.
According to Brewerfan.net’s salary page, the TBBC has already committed $37.1585 million for 2008 in contracts; this figure covers only the 23 players under contract, and not any projections for re-signing Cordero, Scott Linebrink, or Damian Miller, nor any of the arbitration eligible players. It also includes guys from the 40-man that may not make the team, e.g. Vinny Rotino. Assuming these guys don’t make it and are or could be replaced with free agents, the updated payroll committments are only $33.6305 million (I left in Mike Rivera’s contract, assuming that they’ll pay at least that much for him and the reserve catcher spot).
Here is a list of the arbitration eligible players, in descending order from projected most expensive to least expensive based on my initial estimate of where their salary will wind up:

  1. Johnny Estrada, $3.4 million in ’07–$4.5 mil. in ’08 est.
  2. Kevin Mench, $3.4 million in ’07–no offer for ’08
  3. Chris Capuano, $3.25 million in 07–$3.75 mil. in ’08 est.
  4. Claudio Vargas, $2.5 million in ’07–traded off roster for ’08
  5. J.J. Hardy, $400,000 in ’07–$2.25 mil. in ’08 est.
  6. Dave Bush, $450,000 in ’07–$1.75 mil. in ’08 est.
  7. Matt Wise, $1.0 million in ’07–$1.45 mil. in ’08 est.
  8. Brian Shouse, $975,000 in ’07–$1.45 mil. in ’08 est.
  9. Seth McClung, $750,000 in ’07–$975,000 in ’08 est.

This would bring the estimated payroll committments to $49,755,500, leaving $25,244,500 for 4 roster spots: a closer, a starting outfielder, a relief pitcher, and a reserve infielder (in other words, the roster spots held by Francisco Cordero, Geoff Jenkins, Scott Linebrink, and Tony Graffanino in 2007).
There are lots of ways to divy up this pot, but Doug Melvin is most likely hoping to spend $10 million on Cordero, another $5.5 on Linebrink, and use $0.4 million on bringing Joe Dillon back; this would leave $9.3445 million for a starting outfielder…is that enough for a Torii Hunter or Aaron Rowand? Only time will tell.

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