2019 Payroll Preview: AL Central (Part 3 of 6)

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we established the foundation of how we will arrive at this year’s projected payroll for each team and looked at where each team in the AL East and NL East could wind up this year, and what moves might they make in the remainder of this Winter. Today, we take a look at the the AL Central where there is a contender trying to save money, and 4 other teams hoping to find an identity and begin a dynasty out of a rebuild in the coming seasons.

Chicago White Sox

Previous 3 Seasons: $96M
Current Salary Commitments for 2019: $35.5M
Projected Payroll: $120M
Arbitration Projections: Jose Abreu ($16M), Alex Colome ($7.3M), Yolmer Sanchez ($4.7M), Carlos Rodon ($3.7M)

The White Sox are a ridiculously young team with loads of talent. And even better news for the fans is that the talent is still getting better. A large amount of their core players are still in pre-arbitration and with only four players in arbitration plus the seven veterans currently under contract for 2019, they have a solid amount of money to play with for 2019. They are currently making bids for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, and I suspect if they don’t get one or both of them, they will save some money in 2019, let their young players learn the law of the land, and make a big splash in the next two years of free agency.

Off Season Suggestions:
– If you get Harper and/or Machado, enter “win now” mode and spend some of that money you’ve been saving
– If you don’t get Harper or Machado, wait a year, save money, teach the young guys, and make a huge wave next winter

Cleveland Indians

Previous 3 Seasons: $126.9M
Current Payroll Commitments for 2019: $84.6M
Projected Payroll: $130M
Arbitration Projections: Trevor Bauer ($11.6M), Francisco Lindor ($10.2M), Cody Anderson ($900k)

The Indians were in a bit of a predicament entering this Off-Season due to the fact that they are a mid-market team and was spending more that they could really afford. However, that also meant making a couple trades this winter that could jeopardize their ability to compete for a World Series in 2019. To counter this, the team made moves to sign contracts with four separate players entering arbitration (Danny Salazar, Leonys Martin, Neil Ramirez, and Nick Goody) to save a bit of money. Their MLB roster is mostly set at this point but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them make a move shortly before Spring Training to bring in a bullpen arm at a discounted rate after losing Andrew Miller and Cody Allen to free agency.

Off Season Suggestions:
– Cory Gearrin, RP, 2 years, $8M – Gearrin is a pretty solid arm in the bullpen over the past two seasons, posting a 115 ERA+ in 2018, and a 215 ERA+ over 68 innings in 2017, he may be one of the most overlooked relievers in free agency this winter

Detroit Tigers

Previous 3 Seasons: $173.2M
Current Salary Commitments for 2019: $82.8M
Projected Payroll: $120M
Arbitration Projections: Nicholas Castellanos ($11.3M), Shane Greene ($4.8M), Michael Fulmer ($3M), Matthew Boyd ($3M), Daniel Norris ($1.4M), Blaine Hardy ($1.2M)

The Tigers are in a tough spot with just 5 veterans contributing to that $82.8M in commitments, and their arbitration hearings won’t be cheap. They do, however, have a couple very talented pre-arbitration players such as Jeimer Candelario to build around. Their biggest areas of focus should be improving behind the plate and finding a solid lead-off hitter, as JaCoby Jones is not getting it done at the plate.

Off Season Suggestions:
– Devin Mesoraco, C, 2 years, $4M – Mesoraco isn’t a great catcher who will turn your team’s struggles around, but he is more than serviceable behind the plate and is a veteran who can teach Grayson Greiner
– Derek Dietrich, UTIL, 2 years, $8.5M – Dietrich is a player capable of playing at all infield positions and in the outfield, as well as fills the need for a capable lead-off hitter. He had an OBP of .330 or higher in each of his four seasons with at least 250 PA – resulting in a career OBP 77 points higher than JaCoby Jones

Kansas City Royals

Previous 3 Seasons: $139.9M
Current Payroll Commitments for 2019: $83.1M
Projected Payroll: $115M
Arbitration Projections: All arbitration players avoided arbitration by signing contracts through 2019

The Royals were the only team in 2018 competing with the Orioles to be the worst in the league. However, unlike the Orioles, the Royals have a good set of young players that are looking to improve in 2019. The Royals see this year as a development year and not a time to turn the corner like the White Sox. That being said, the Royals may still be a very fun team to watch this year with loads of speed in their lineup after the acquisition of speedster Billy Hamilton.

Off Season Suggestions:
– Gio Gonzalez, SP, 1 year, $5.5M – The Royals have some room in the bullpen for a long relief in addition to some injury issues this last season. The veteran presence of Gonzalez in addition to Ian Kennedy will also serve well to the large group of very young pitchers the Royals have coming to the Majors

Minnesota Twins

Previous 3 Seasons: $111.2M
Current Payroll Commitments for 2019: $40.1M
Projected Payroll: $110M
Arbitration Projections: Jake Odorizzi ($9.4M), Kyle Gibson ($7.9M), Eddie Rosario ($5M), Max Kepler ($3.2M), Miguel Sano ($3.1M), Taylor Rogers ($1.6M), Byron Buxton ($1.2M), Trevor May ($1.1M)

The Twins felt a bit downtrodden after the 2018 season saw their two brightest young players – Sano and Buxton – apparently regress. Buxton continues to have issues with injury and hitting at the major league level, while Sano was exposed as a swing-and-miss batter. They have a chance to turn the corner this year if those two can get back on track and the pitching holds out. The recent addition of Nelson Cruz also helps their lineup significantly, as they now have a solid DH instead of rotating position players in and out.

Off Season Suggestions:
It’s hard to say where the Twins go the rest of this winter due to their team being so young. They filled their obvious needs already and now must look to their young players to step up and start performing in 2019.

Coming Next:
NL Central

Photo Credit:

Mick Callahan

Hi, I'm Mick Callahan. I'm a native of St. Louis, MO, and a lifelong Cardinals fan. Most of the time, I'm a software engineer, which has left me to be one of the resident Stat Nerds here at Diamond Digest. If you need an example, check out my aRBI+ article.

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