One of Major League Baseball’s go-to sites during the offseason, MLB Trade Rumors, released their latest round of arbitration projections for the upcoming offseason.
Those projections obviously include the Washington Nationals, who have a few eligible players.
While the algorithm used for these projections is complex, for the casual reader, usually things are pretty straightforward with one salary projection for each player.
But this time, MLB Trade Rumors have multiple figures to account for the uncertainty that awaits this offseason as there’s never been an arbitration period after a 60-game season.
Here’s how Tim Dierkes prefaced the projections and explained the three methods used:
This winter, those involved in the process do not know how arbitration will account for the 60-game season, nor is there an agreement in place between MLB and the MLBPA on how to address it. Many cases may end up getting resolved in a hearing room. To reflect that uncertainty, we’re providing three projections for each player:
Method 1: Applies model directly with actual statistics from this 60-game season
Method 2: Extrapolates all counting stats to would-be 162-game totals. One home run becomes 2.7 home runs.
Method 3: For non-first-time eligibles, finds the raise they’d get in a 162 game season, then gives them 37% of that raise
So, in short, the first figures plugs in someone’s 60-game statistics as if it were a 162-game season, the second multiplies their numbers by 2.7 and calculates it off of those statistics, and the third, for players who are not eligible for the first time, uses that second figure, then calculates the raise they got from their last arbitration salary, and gives them 37% of that raise to represent 37% of the season that was played in 2020.
Make sense? Kind of?
Common sense says they will probably end up somewhere in the middle of the first two figures for those that played in the shortened-season, as their 2020 stats can’t be taken into account as if they were 162-game stats, but it would also be a big leap to extrapolate them to 162 too.
Following Michael A. Taylor’s release on Thursday, the Nationals were left with only three remaining players included in MLB Trade Rumors’ projections: Trea Turner, Juan Soto, and Joe Ross.
Here’s a look at each player’s arbitration projection and some accompanying thoughts:
Trea Turner – $9.4 million/ $16.6 million / $10.8 million
Turner will be far and away the Nats’ biggest arbitration salary this offseason. In what will be his third of four years of arbitration, Turner appears to be set to take his salary into eight-figure territory this offseason based on the above projections.
It would be fully deserved for Turner who is coming off a campaign in which he slashed .335/.394/.588 with 12 home runs, 12 stolen bases, and a 2.7 fWAR that ranked sixth in baseball. It also won’t hurt his cause if he appears on several MVP ballots, as expected.
Juan Soto – $4.5 million / $8.5 million / $4.5 million
As we looked at recently, MLB Trade Rumors has the Nationals’ young superstar as arbitration-eligible as a Super Two player this offseason, meaning a significant raise is in order.
The high-point of these projections is short of what we initially guessed in that previous piece though, which would seem to be because of the shortened season and the missed time he had right at the start of the 2020 season being amplified in the extrapolation.
Obviously, with Soto arbitration-eligible, a contract extension would still make a lot of sense for both sides with the salary ticking up, as well as providing a huge payday for the outfielder.
Joe Ross – $1.5 million / $1.5 million / $1.5 million
After opting out of the coronavirus-affected 2020 season, Ross is projected to be in the exact same spot as he was last season with a $1.5 million projection that would match what would’ve been for 2020 in a normal season.
This shouldn’t be surprising, as often when players miss entire seasons — admittedly, this is usually through injury rather than an opt-out — their salaries will stay the same the next year.