Tough arbitration decisions face KC Royals, Moore

(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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KC Royals,
KC Royals, /

The KC Royals usually avoid arbitration. But with big offseason decisions to make, how will they approach the process this year?

Major League Baseball Trade Rumors published its annual arbitration salary projections for all 30 teams, including the KC Royals, just Thursday. Their predictions have already spawned droves of Internet reaction.

The projections came with a caveat of sorts. Because baseball arbitrators generally limit statistical performance arguments to the immediately preceding season, MLBTR predicted three separate outcomes: one based on the 60-game 2020 season, one extrapolating 60-game stats to the regular 162-games, and one applied to players not in their first arbitration season that first projected raises based on 162 games, then adjusted to 37 percent of that number.

Baseball’s lack of an agreement covering the shortened season’s effects on arbitration drove MLBTR’s alternative projections; the current Basic Agreement contemplates a 162-game schedule and, while the players and clubs may negotiate a resolution, they haven’t yet.

For the Royals, arbitration involves more than determining what salaries to offer. Because payroll money all comes from the same pot, the club must determine whether to offer extensions to several key arbitration-eligible players; how to budget for club extensions and club improvement; whether to save money by cutting arbitration-eligible players loose; and what to offer players they don’t extend.

What favors the Royals is veteran general manager Dayton Moore, a master of arbitration avoidance who almost always negotiates deals with his players. But the KC Royals’ impressive cast of players eligible for arbitration—Brad Keller, Adalberto Mondesi, Jorge Soler, Hunter Dozier, Jakob Junis, Mike Montgomery, Maikel Franco, Kevin McCarthy, Franchy Cordero, Jesse Hahn and Glenn Sparkman—may make his job more difficult this time.

The decisions will be hard. Let’s see what they might be.

(We’re using only MLBTR projections based on the just-completed 60-game campaign and the extrapolation to the usual 162 contests. All references to 2020 player salaries are based on Baseball Prospectus’ invaluable Cot’s Baseball Contracts and are not prorated to 60 games).