Providing some payroll perspective

Jenifer Langosch/

With Friday’s announcement that the Cardinals have reached a one-year agreement with third baseman David Freese on a 2013 salary, the Cardinals have wrapped up negotiations with all five of their arbitration players. It doesn’t exactly solidify all the contracts for this season (we’ll get to that in a minute), but the rest will be smooth sailing from here.

With Freese’s deal — which likely values around the midpoint of the $2.4 million the Cardinals offered and the $3.75 million Freese sought — the organization has established 2013 salaries for 16 of the players on its 40-man roster. Here is a rundown of those base salary commitments, which total approximately $108 million*.

(*That figure is approximate because it is not yet known how much Freese’s one-year deal is worth. For the sake of calculations, I used the midpoint figure of $3.075 million.)

  • Matt Holliday: $17 million
  • Yader Molina: $14 million
  • Carlos Beltran: $13 million
  • Chris Carpenter: $12.5 million (if he remains on the DL all season, the Cardinals will recoup some of this through an insurance policy)
  • Adam Wainwright: $12 million
  • Jake Westbrook: $8.75 million
  • Rafael Furcal: $7 million
  • Jaime Garcia: $5.75 million
  • Jason Motte: $4 million (plus a $1 million signing bonus, which was not factored into that $108 million figure)
  • Edward Mujica: $3.2 million
  • David Freese: $3.075 million (again, this is an educated approximation)
  • Ty Wigginton: $2.5 million
  • Randy Choate: $1.5 million
  • Mitchell Boggs: $1.475 million
  • Ronny Cedeno: $1.15 million
  • Marc Rzepczynski: $1.1 million

These will be the bulk of the Cardinals’ financial commitments, unless, of course, the organization makes a late play in the free-agent market. This does not, though, equal the final sum of commitments. All of the players on a team’s 40-man roster count against a club’s final payroll number (which won’t be known until after the season).

Players with less than three years of service time — and the Cardinals have 24 of those on their 40-man roster — have their contracts renewed much more quietly over the next few weeks. Teams control these salaries and most will be at the Major League minimum ($490,000 in 2013) or only slightly above.

Also, keep in mind that even though everyone on the 40-man roster will be assigned a Major League salary, a player will only earn it if he is on the Major League club. If he is sent to the Minors, he’ll earn a Minor League salary ($79,900 in 2013). A pro-rated salary will be paid accordingly to players who spend part of the year with the big league team and part of the year in the Minors.

All of these salary figures, as well as performances bonuses, pro-rated shares of signing bonuses, buyouts of unexercised options, cash transactions and other residual costs, will ultimately be used to determine a team’s final payroll — and again, those final numbers can’t be known until the end of the season.

But given the $108 million the Cardinals have already committed to 16 players, you can see why it’s been estimated that the organization’s 2013 payroll will come in around $115 million.

It would seem, too, that given these already-established commitments, the payroll actually has the chance of approaching the $120 million mark. That would be the case if the Cardinals choose to take on salary while making any in-season additions (i.e. Trade Deadline acquisitions).

Last year, the Cardinals had an Opening Day payroll of approximately $112 million (according to the Cot’s Contract database). The organization had an end-of-the-year payroll of about $115.5 million. The Cardinals first opened the season with a payroll of at least $100 million in 2010.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

1 Comment

I’m still awaiting news of that surprise trade that STL seems to pull about this time of year. I’m sure Beltron is seeing his last season here. Don’t be too upset if at trade deadline Wano and Freeze are on the block also for some young prospects. It’s business. RIP STAN !

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