PHOENIX — With Friday’s signing of veteran pitcher Bronson Arroyo, the Arizona Diamondbacks were able to keep a commitment made in December by logging the largest payroll in franchise history for the upcoming 2014 season.
Arroyo’s contract, which contains a base salary of $9.5 million in 2014, helped push the Diamondbacks’ books over the $100 million threshold, along with the team’s agreements with Mark Trumbo and Gerardo Parra earlier in the week. Trumbo should garner just under $6 million in 2014 while Parra is expected to earn $4.85 million, according to a report.
The Diamondbacks payroll is currently estimated at $104,675,000, according to Baseball Prospectus. The estimate is comprised of the salaries of 19 players, excluding the players who will round out the team’s 25-man roster like Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley and A.J. Pollock among others. All but Henry Blanco among the prospective roster qualifiers are expected to make less than $1,000,000 in 2014. The Baseball Prospectus estimate also includes the $500,000 owed to former Diamondbacks pitcher Heath Bell, now of the Tampa Bay Rays.
The upcoming season is, thus, shaping up to be just the second time in franchise history that the Diamondbacks’ major league payroll has exceeded $100 million, with the only other time being 12 years ago in 2002, when the team was defending its lone World Series trophy. Joe Garagiola was acting as general manager that season and Jerry Colangelo was the majority owner and chairman of the board.
Then, the payroll was approximately $102,820,000, according to Baseball-Reference.com, before dropping by over $20 million in the year following.
This season’s payroll, meanwhile, is more than $24 million higher than 2013’s — a 76.5 percent increase.
Arroyo instantaneously becomes the fifth-highest paid Diamondback with his salary, trailing only Miguel Montero, Brandon McCarthy, Martin Prado and Aaron Hill. Of those players, Hill and Prado own the largest share of team payroll. Each will earn $11 million in 2014.
“We have committed to a payroll that is the highest in our team history,” Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Hot Stove Show back in early December.
Although the Diamondbacks came short in their pursuit of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, they were purportedly prepared to pay the free agent $20 million a year over six years, excluding the $20 million posting fee owed to the player’s Nippon Professional Baseball team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
And prior to their pursuit of Tanaka, the team was reportedly open to paying outfielder Shin-Soo Choo close to $20 million a year over seven years.
The record-high payroll, meanwhile, stills comes in significantly smaller than that of Diamondbacks’ division rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers (approximately $222 million) and the San Francisco Giants (approximately $141 million).
But managing general partner Ken Kendrick and others in the Diamondbacks front office believe the heightened spending will yield results, while demonstrating to fans a commitment to winning.
“He’s very passionate about the team and about everything that he puts effort into,” Luis Gonzalez, a special assistant to Hall, said Saturday of Kendrick.
“I think you can see that in the last couple years of him expanding the payroll, trying to get better players — just trying to bring a winning product here to Arizona. He’s very passionate about that.”
But, in a market smaller than those of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Diamondbacks know that — in addition to their upped disbursements — they will need to resourceful in their personnel decisions.
“What he does and what our staff does is very creative in trying to bring the right pieces in here that are going to produce and do very good things for our organization,” Gonzalez explained.
Hall and Kendrick collaborated with general manager Kevin Towers to slate the team’s 2014 payroll. In addition to the increased player payroll, manager Kirk Gibson and Towers himself had their contracts extended beyond the 2014 season.