Starting to get to the point of the season, sadly, where fans are starting to wonder who might be returning to the Rockies in 2012. Who is under contract, who is arbitration eligible, etc?
First, here are some quick, basic definitions:
Free agent: If a player is a free agent he simply signs with the highest bidder (usually). His services are open for bidding by any of the 30 MLB teams. Players can become free agents after six years of major league service time.
Arbitration eligible: Players become arbitration eligible after their third season in the major leagues (there are rules surrounding what constitutes a “season” in MLB; playing 10 games with the Rockies in July isn’t a “season”). During the player’s arbitration years the player asks for his desired salary, the team counters and they try to negotiate something in between. If the sides cannot settle on a dollar amount they take the negotiations to an arbitrator and the arbitrator will decide on a dollar amount. These sorts of deals can become ugly between team and player because the team will air any dirty laundry as their rationale for the number they put on the table.
Pre-arbitration eligible: Until a player has three years of big league service he is not eligible for arbitration (there is a “Super Two” exception). These are usually the young players who are still trying to get a footing in baseball. Teams will usually sign these players for about league minimum ($400k in ’11). In some cases a team might sign a young player to a “team friendly” contract through their arbitration years.
The list below has the contract status of most of the Rockies players that fans are interested in. If the player is pre-arbitration eligible then the team is most likely to sign them to a major league minimum salary going into 2013. For a player that the team likes, Jhoulys Chacin for example, they will probably give him a few thousand dollars extra above league minimum. If the Rockies really like him they might give offer him a contract through his arbitration years which would be through the 2015 season in Chacin’s case (he can be a free agent in 2016).
There is the potential for a lot of turnover on the Rockies roster going into 2012 as only 11 players are signed for 2012 already.
Aaron Cook: Free agent in 2012
Carlos Gonzalez: Signed through 2017 ($5MM in ’12)
Chris Iannetta: Signed through 2012 ($3.5MM in ’12)
Chris Nelson: Pre-arbitration eligible
Dexter Fowler: Arbitration eligible in 2012
Eliezer Alfonzo: Pre-arbitration eligible
Eric Young Jr.: Pre-arbitration eligible
Esmil Rogers: Pre-arbitration eligible
Huston Street: Signed through 2012 ($7.5MM in ’12)
Jason Giambi: Free agent in 2012
Jason Hammel: Signed through 2012 ($4.75MM in ’12)
Jhoulys Chacin: Pre-arbitration eligible
Jonathan Herrera: Pre-arbitration eligible
Jorge De La Rosa: Signed through 2012 ($10MM in ’12)
Jose Morales: Arbitration eligible in 2012
Juan Nicasio: Pre-arbitration eligible
Mark Ellis: Free agent in 2012
Matt Belisle: Signed through 2012 ($3.775MM in ’12)
Matt Lindstrom: Signed through 2012 ($3.6MM in ’12)
Matt Reynolds: Pre-arbitration eligible
Rafael Betancourt: Signed through 2012 ($4MM in ’12)
Rex Brothers: Pre-arbitration eligible
Ryan Spilborghs: Arbitration eligible in 2012
Seth Smith: Arbitration eligible in 2012
Ian Stewart: Arbitration eligible in 2012
Todd Helton: Signed through 2013 ($4.9MM in ’12)
Troy Tulowitzki: Signed through 2020 ($8.25MM in ’12)
Ty Wigginton: Signed through 2012 ($4MM in ’12)