Phillies Avoid Arbitration with Kyle Kendrick
The Phillies have avoided arbitration with Kyle Kendrick in his fourth and final year, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $7.675 million, per the Phillies official Twitter. The deal includes award bonuses. The two sides had previously agreed to a two-year deal worth a total of $7.5 million in February 2012. The latest deal represents a pay raise of more than $3 million over last season.
Everyone’s natural reaction to the news is, with shock and awe, “$7.675 million for Kyle Kendrick?!” Former contributor to The Good Phight Matt Swartz, whose arbitration projections for MLB Trade Rumors have been quite accurate, expected the right-hander to take home $6.6 million, so it does appear to be a bit of an overpay, but it’s practically insignificant. Almost all players get a pay raise through arbitration. In very rare cases, a player’s salary can be cut, but by no more than 20 percent over the previous season. Salary in arbitration has more to do with a player’s previous salary and service time rather than specifically rewarding performance on the field.
Kendrick finished 2013 with a disappointing 4.70 ERA, his highest since 2010. He started off well, ending June with a 3.56 ERA with 70 strikeouts and 27 walks in 112 and two-thirds innings. It appeared that his refined approach, thanks to his dad and pitching coach Rich Dubee, had turned him into a useful starter. But in 13 starts between the start of July and September 13, Kendrick posted a 6.49 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 20 walks in 69 and one-third innings. He went on the disabled list on September 14th with inflammation in his right shoulder, ending his season.
Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projection system expects Kendrick to post a 4.23 ERA with 98 strikeouts and 40 walks in 151 innings in 2014. In other words, Kendrick is expected to be an average starter. In terms of a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation, $7.675 million is more or less about what one would expect to pay an average starter on a one-year deal on the open market.
Could the Phillies have found a similar or better pitcher at a cheaper price? It’s very likely that they could have, but they would have had to non-tender Kendrick at the beginning of December. That wasn’t a risk GM Ruben Amaro was willing to take with the team’s pitching depth as thin as it is. So even if $7.675 million is a slight overpay, he might be worth that much more to the Phillies simply because they wouldn’t otherwise have the means to replace him in the rotation. Plus, Kendrick offers versatility with experience pitching out of the bullpen in the past.
The Phillies still have three arbitration cases remaining: with Antonio Bastardo in his second year of eligibility, as well as John Mayberry and Ben Revere in their first years of eligibility. Swartz projects $2 million for Bastardo, $1.7 million for Mayberry, and $1.5 million for Revere.