Jays' Arbitration Cases

Saturday, January 11 2003 @ 10:57 AM EST

Contributed by: Coach

Pistol referred to this in another thread, and while there's no earth-shaking news, it's worth a look. Alan Ryan of the Star talks to a "very happy" J.P. Ricciardi about his budget and other financial matters. Paul Godfrey reminds enthusiastic Jays fans (guilty, sorry) that the team is only at the second stage of a four-part rebuilding process, and credits the GM for his patience, while J.P. says this about Roy Halladay:

"Next year, we'll definitely be thinking about doing something long term."

That's a vague commitment to an extension, but there's no hurry: Doc is a Blue Jay for three more years via the arbitration process, which begins in earnest next weekend. Now it's time to play a Batter's Box guessing game -- what do the five arb-eligible Toronto players want, and what will they get?

Halladay really earned his $2.5 MM last year. Still a youngster on the rise, with one great season and half of another under his belt, he wouldn't break the bank, but a million-dollar raise seems a bit low to me. The Jays would be ill-advised to take their ace to a hearing, and the negotiations will be a lot friendlier that last winter's public mudslinging with Chris Carpenter and his agent, so if the team offers a reasonable $4 MM, I'm expecting an amicable settlement of around $4.5 MM with some healthy incentives.

Cliff Politte made $245,000 last year (at the time of the trade, I got carried away and said he was ten years younger than Plesac, and ten times better, for a tenth of the price) which should more than triple, and based on what his setup guys got, a million doesn't seem outrageous, so my guess is a $900 K base.

Chris Woodward? A $235,000 bargoon in 2002, but has never played a full season as a big-league regular, and his half-season as the #1 SS was interrupted by injury. $600,000 guaranteed, with six-figure bonuses kicking in at 300 AB, 400 AB, 500 AB, etc., seems about right.

Kelvim Escobar? One of two guys the Jays don't want to take to a hearing (Shannon Stewart is the other) because an arbitrator might be swayed by the agent's case. The closer made $2.3 MM in a typically erratic 2002 campaign, and based on his age, years of service and save numbers, that is sure to go up. How much? Let's just say that what he should get will be less than he does get, as the team will have to compromise to keep this one out of the arbitrator's office.

Stewart made $4.2 MM last year, performed well, and (again, because of his comps in age, years of service and performance) is assured of a substantial raise. So here's my ballot in the "Arbitration Price Is Right" sweepstakes:

Halladay $4.5 MM
Escobar $3.75 MM
Stewart $5.25 MM
Politte $900 K
Woodward $600 K

Total? $15 million, a bit more than the team would like to pay, which means that the extra cash jingling in J.P.'s pocket (according to the article, he's still bargain shopping for another pitcher) isn't really there. And while I admit to impersonating Dan O'Dowd with an outrageous offer from the Rockies, I hope Doc will feel by 2004 that he's on the verge of a Cy Young and a pennant right where he is, and take a "hometown" discount to stay in a foreign country.