Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Arbitration Estimates

Pedro Alvarez is projected to make $4 M in arbitration. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
Pedro Alvarez is projected to make $4 M in arbitration. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Matt Swartz at MLBTR has been producing some very accurate arbitration estimates over the last two seasons. His estimates for the Pittsburgh Pirates just came out recently, in an off-season preview that was written by Charlie at Bucs Dugout. Below are the MLBTR arbitration estimates:

  • Garrett Jones, OF (4.158): $5.3MM (non-tender candidate)
  • Neil Walker, 2B (3.166): $4.8MM
  • Pedro Alvarez, 3B (3.085): $4MM
  • Charlie Morton, SP (5.010): $3.9MM
  • Mark Melancon, RP (3.098): $3MM
  • Gaby Sanchez, 1B (4.025):  $2.3MM
  • Travis Snider, OF (3.091): $1.4MM (non-tender candidate)
  • Michael McKenry, C (2.136): $900K (non-tender candidate)
  • Vin Mazzaro, RP (3.021): $800K
  • Felix Pie, OF (4.028): $500K (non-tender candidate)

The non-tender notes are MLBTR projections (which I’m assuming are Charlie’s projections). I agree with most of them, with the exception of Michael McKenry. He’s got an option remaining, and the Pirates would have to spend that much on a third catcher with his type of experience in the majors. I could see them keeping McKenry and sending him to Triple-A. I could also see Vin Mazzaro traded to make room for Stolmy Pimentel in the bullpen, although that doesn’t really make him a non-tender candidate.

Gaby Sanchez would also be up in the air, depending on what they do at first base. In my original projections I had him as a non-tender/trade candidate. However, there aren’t many full time starting first base options, as Charlie pointed out in the article, making it possible that Sanchez could be involved in another platoon next year.

Here is a look back at how accurate the projections have been in previous years (or if you skip over this, know that they’ve been very accurate).


Player (Projection/Actual)

Joel Hanrahan ($4.0/$4.1)

Casey McGehee ($3.1/$2.5375)

Jeff Karstens ($2.8/$3.1)

Garrett Jones ($2.4/$2.25)

Ross Ohlendorf ($2.1/Non-Tendered)

Charlie Morton ($2.1/$2.445)

Jose Veras ($2.5/$2.0 with Milwaukee)

Chris Resop ($1.1/$0.85)

Evan Meek ($0.9/$0.875)

Jason Grilli ($0.8/$1.1)


Player (Projection/Actual)

Joel Hanrahan ($6.9/$7.04)

Jeff Karstens ($3.8/Non-Tendered)

Garrett Jones ($4.4/$4.5)

Charlie Morton ($2.6/$2.0)

Chris Resop ($1.3/$1.35)

James McDonald ($3.0/$3.025)

Neil Walker ($2.9/$3.3)

Gaby Sanchez ($1.8/$1.75)

The 2014 payroll projection has been updated with the new figures. The estimated payroll was $60,843,000 prior to this. The new estimate is $63,443,000. One key difference between the two is that the new estimate now has Gaby Sanchez getting tendered a contract.

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Mazzaro really did well for the Pirates. Gaby Sanchez had excellent numbers especially the W/K and the Defense he brings. Morneau was 2nd in fielding R%age and Range, and I think Gaby would be as good in %age, but his RF is skewered by using games as the bottom line instead of innings played – because Gaby was a late inning defensive replacement most of the year, he was being assesses a game for only an inning played.

Neil is a nice kid but I cannot see a raise of $1.5 mil on a $3.3 mil salary – a 45% raise? He did not have that good of a year. How about a 33% raise to $4.4 mil. And, no way Neil Walker is paid more than Pedro Alvarez regardless of the Super Two status. The Pirates better agree to something above Walker. I also think we are underrating the year that Morton had. He had been a $2.4 mil guy for 2012, but took a cut to $2.0 for 2013 due to his TJ surgery and the unknown of when he would pitch or how effective he would be when he came back. Estimated at $3.9 mil, I would go to a minimum of $4.5 based on the numbers he posted. I agree with you on McKenry – as long as we get Sanchez up to be the backup Catcher and RH bench strength. Did Tony Sanchez not play 3B during his career in Miami/BC?

Stephen Brooks

emjay, by your comments above, I’m not sure you understand how the arbitration process works and how the figures are derived. Walker’s “raise” is at least as much a function of his years of service as it is his most recent performance. A player’s numbers may dip between the first and second years of arbitration, but barring significant injury that player will almost always be in line for a very large raise, both in percentage terms and gross terms. The process is essentially designed to gradually increase a controllable player’ salary from the major league minimum up to his true value in three or (in the case of Super 2’s) four steps. (There is a rule of thumb that a player receives roughly 40% of his “true free agent value” in his first year of arbitration and 60% and 80% in his second and third years. It’s not perfect, but a decent metric. Super-2’s get a little better than 20%.)

The figures are based on comparable players – either their arb awards at a similar point in service time or the long-term contract they may have signed to buy out their arb (and possibly free agent) years (guys like Cutch, Longoria & Elvis Andrus). Walker’s comps (think Howie Kendrick and Brandon Phillips) spit out a higher value than Alvarez’s comps (think Mark Reynolds). Basically, there is more history to suggest Walker’s level is legit, while Alvarez still has that ugly 2011 in the rearview. I imagine if they both match their 2013 performances next year, Pedro will jump well ahead of Neil.

When you say “the Pirates better agree to something above Walker” (for Alvarez), it kind of begs the question “or what?” The system gives Pedro only two options: accept the arbitrator’s decision or retire. This isn’t the NFL, he can’t hold out. And since we know that, as a Boras client, Pedro is as good as gone when he qualifies for free agency, the Bucs gain no advantage by overpaying him now. He’s going to leave in 3 years, so they might as well pay him what he qualifies for, not a dollar more, and apply what’s left over to other needs.

By the same token, why would you pay Morton more than he would “earn” through the arbitration process? If $3.9 is what it will take to lock him up, then the extra $600k you would pay him is wasted. That’s less money to lock up Marte, or Polanco, less money for international bonuses. It won’t make Morton want to re-sign with the Bucs for less once he’s a free agent. And that’s coming from a guy who really likes Morton and wants NH to sign him to an extension.

Also, I think you’re confusing Sanchezes. Tony went to Boston College where he was a catcher. He didn’t play 3B for BC. Gaby went to Miami, and did play 3B and OF as well as 1B.


Absolutely correct, guilty as charged. The numbers are my personal feel for the arbitration process. Walker had a year where he only played 133 games, batted .251, which was 29 points lower than last year, lower number of RBI’s, and his D was no better than last year. Therefore, I see a 45% increase as exhorbitant, and I would go for 33% or $1.1 mil for a total of $4.4 mil. Pedro is listed at $4 mil and that may be the offer of the club. I expect that the Boras Camp is very Proud of Pedro and will come in with a number around $5 mil or a little North of that. And yes, I think that Pedro’s 30+ HR’s the past 2 years and 100 RBI’s this year will be worth more to the Pirates than Neil Walker.

Tony Sanchez played his HS ball in Miami.

I do not want to give money to anyone, but Charlie Morton had an excellent year, and I think the number will be $4.5 mil. It is his 3rd year, and without the injury, he would have been over $3.5 mil already – again, my personal opinion.

Stephen Brooks

Ah, sorry my mistake on the Sanchezes. I guess that means Gaby was at Miami (the U) at the same time Tony was in Miami (high school). Any idea where Jonathan was at the time?


Arbitration is not the most rational, it uses imprecise statistics mainly average, home runs and RBIs. However the most important factor is playing time, not only past years ABs and innings but cumulative amount, Super Two is the reason Walkers is getting relatively more than Alvarez who is in his first arbitration year. And Alvarez is getting over a 400% raise, welcome to the world of regimented labor markets.

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