Looking At Brewers Arby Projections: Part 1

Estrada
Photo: Gene J. Puskar / AP
  
Today, MLB Trade Rumors released their “Offseason Outlook” for the Brewers, looking at almost every major-league move the club might make this winter. The series itself is fantastic – though I would disagree with the writer’s suggestion that the Brewers should look into adding a shortstop – but the part I find the most interesting is the projected salaries the site releases for each of the club’s arbitration-eligible players.

The projections are based off a model created by Matt Swartz, and, in most cases, do a pretty good job of predicting the actual salary agreed on by the player and team – a figure that can be surprisingly hard to estimate offhand. Today and tomorrow, we’re going to use them to look at each of the arbitration cases the Brewers will be facing this winter (we’ll do five today and four tomorrow), and how they might be resolved.

Marco Estrada: 1st year, $486,000 (2012) $1.6 million (2013 projected)

To date, Estrada has been a fantastic bargain for the Brewers, but that statement is going to have to be qualified somewhat now that he is arbitration-eligible for the first time. Thankfully for the club, though, his irregular role (in each of the last two years, it’s took an injury for a spot in the rotation to open up for him) has prevented him from accumulating the counting numbers – innings pitched, strikeouts, wins, etc.  – that arbitration panels tend to value the most. Especially when you consider that Estrada will likely occupy a permanent spot in the rotation from here on out, the Brewers will still be happy to retain his services for what will probably be less than $2 million.

John Axford: 1st year, $525,000 (2012), $5.1 million (2013 projected)

This is going to be a tough one. After great years in 2010 and 2011, Axford is coming off a season in which he was a major factor in the club’s downfall, posting a 4.67 ERA and a -1.2 WAR. However, he still will likely see a big raise, thanks in large part to the 106 saves he has racked up over the last three years. This is just speculation on my part, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Brewers and Axford are unable to agree on a contract and are forced to go to a hearing. This is almost always an unhappy situation for both player and club, and we’re talking about players who don’t take to Twitter to defend themselves when they are struggling.

Chris Narveson: 1st year, $500,000 (2012), $800,000 (2013 projected)

Narveson will hopefully be able to rejoin the rotation sometime this year after having rotator cuff surgery in April. He would have probably gotten a raise in the $2-3 million range had he been healthy, but will now likely stay in the high six-figure range as he tries to come back. Assuming Narveson’s agent doesn’t demand a salary significantly higher than that, it’s almost assured that he will be tendered a contract.

Manny Parra: 3rd year, $1.2 million (2012), $1.6 million (2013 projected)

Coming off arm surgery, Parra had another up-and-down year, alternating between striking out and walking the ballpark and not proving terribly effective in the aggregate. At some point, the Brewers will likely grow tired of giving him an automatic raise and hoping he can finally put it together, but it’s not clear if this will finally be the year. The Brewers seem intent on making plenty of changes to their bullpen this offseason, so it’s very possible that they will find their $1.5 million or so can be better spent elsewhere.

Jose Veras: 3rd year, $2 million (2012), $2.6 million (2013 projected)

Veras’ control problems last year were just as severe as those of Parra, but the right-hander was able to remain moderately effective in spite of them, even if he still wouldn’t meet anyone’s definition of “reliable”. If his walk rate falls back to earth at least a little bit – say, to his career average of 4.9 per nine innings – he stands a good chance of being worth somewhere around that expected payday. However, which logo will appear on that paycheck is still subject to the result of what might be a winter-long game of musical relievers for Doug Melvin.

We’ll look at Kameron Loe, Nyjer Morgan, Carlos Gomez, and Travis Ishikawa tomorrow. 

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