Assessing the White Sox's arbitration-eligible players

Jason Miller

Dayan Viciedo is a Super Two and Alejandro De Aza is due for a big raise according to MLB Trade Rumors' projections

We're creeping toward the start of the hot stove season, and MLB Trade Rumors' projection of arbitration-eligible players is a good way to start warming up.

Last year, the White Sox's list of arb-eligibles wasn't particularly complicated. MLBTR attempted to tag a dollar figure to each, and while the system didn't quite nail any individual contract, it came pretty close to the overall total:

Player Predicted Actual
Gordon Beckham $3.1M $2.975M
Alejandro De Aza $1.7M $2.075M
Philip Humber (with HOU)
$1.1M $800K
Total $5.9M $5.85M

On Monday, Tim Dierkes posted the projection for this year's arb-eligibles (estimated service time in parentheses), and the dollar figures get a little harder to stomach:

If the model holds this year, the Sox will have to set aside $11-12 million to pay those players, should they choose to retain them. I'm assuming they'll tender contracts to the players eligible for certain seven-figure salaries, albeit without a great deal of enthusiasm. Flowers is rehabbing from shoulder surgery after a dismal season, and Purcey has had to piece together his playing time throughout the years, so their cases aren't particularly compelling no matter the decision.

De Aza leap-frogged Beckham thanks to huge advantage in playing time (267 more plate appearances), homers (17 to five) and RBI (62 to 24), all of which are significant factors into arbitration-year raises. PA still makes sense, but the other counting stats probably should have been phased out a long time ago.

(Dierkes suggests De Aza could get an extension from the Sox, which makes some sense if you only look at his stats, and not if you watched his baserunning and propensity for pain over the last two years.)

Viciedo's case stands alone, and even Dierkes said the model doesn't quite know what to do with him. He doesn't have too many peers, as a Super Two whose significant first contract expired a year before he qualified for arbitration.

In that limbo state last year, Viciedo ended up receiving a small raise, from $2.5 million to $2.8 million. The Sox slashed his pay by the maximum 20 percent, but when adding a prorated portion of his bonus on his base salary from 2012, he still came out $300,000 ahead. Had Vicedo not reached Super Two status this season, he'd be in line for a $3.04 million salary when rolling the CBA-considered numbers ahead another year.

However, the MLBTR's projection of a salary freeze might not be off. In my post last year explaining Viciedo's contract situation, I used Jeff Samardzija as an example of a player who didn't qualify for arbitration at the end of a lucrative initial pro contract. Coming off an encouraging season, Samardzija and the Cubs agreed to a contract worth his 2012 base salary ($2.64 million), albeit with $125,000 of performance incentives on top. There was no acrimony between the sides.

Since Viciedo's big three counting stats all went in the wrong direction from 2012 to 2013, it could very well be another $2.8 million year. It may not be that simple with Scott Boras representing Viciedo, so I'd probably figure $3 million for Viciedo and put a small wager on the under.

It doesn't seem like the Super Two status should hit the Sox especially hard regardless, which is one of the sole benefits from Viciedo's down year. He wasn't supposed to qualify, but it just so happened that the service time threshold was the lowest it's been in a long time (2.119 years).

That's ironic, because keeping Viciedo from becoming a Super Two was the only real reason to keep him off the roster for as long as the Sox did in 2011. And they might have gotten away with it if it weren't for that meddling Carlos Quentin, whose sprained shoulder forced Viciedo's promotion on Aug. 27, instead of early September when rosters expanded. When even the best-laid plans often go awry, the less honorable ones deserve even less leeway.

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