MLB Players Who Deserve a Raise After the World Series

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2017

MLB Players Who Deserve a Raise After the World Series

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    In the simple economics of baseball, a good season is no guarantee of a raise.

    Unless a player is eligible for salary arbitration or entering free agency, he's essentially at the mercy of his current contract or subject to the league minimum salary.

    With the World Series set to begin on Tuesday night, we decided to take a look at a few notable players who will be playing for a raise in this year's Fall Classic.

    It's safe to say all of these players are underpaid at this point relative to their current market value.

UT Kike Hernandez, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    2017 Stats: 342 PA, .729 OPS, 24 2B, 11 HR, 37 RBI, 46 R, 1.4 WAR

    2017 Salary: $555,000

    2018 Status: Arbitration-eligible (first time)

                  

    Why He Deserves a Raise

    Kike Hernandez etched his name in Los Angeles Dodgers history with a three-homer performance in Game 5 of the NLCS.

    However, he was a valuable roster piece long before that juggernaut performance.

    The 26-year-old is versatile—he played every position besides pitcher and catcher this year—and he absolutely crushes left-handed pitching.

    He posted a .946 OPS with 13 doubles and 10 home runs in 177 plate appearances against lefties this season, and he carries an .883 OPS for his career against southpaws.

    Matt Swartz of MLBTradeRumors has projected a modest $1.3 million salary in his first year of arbitration. That's a nice bump up from the league minimum, but he'll still be a steal at that price.

RP Brandon Morrow, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    2017 Stats: 45 G, 10 HLD, 2.06 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 10.3 K/9, 1.1 WAR

    2017 Salary: $1.25 million

    2018 Status: Free agent

               

    Why He Deserves a Raise

    Brandon Morrow has always had good stuff dating back to his time as a starter with the Toronto Blue Jays.

    He struck out 203 batters and led the AL with 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings during the 2011 season, and he also has a one-hit, 17-strikeout complete game shutout on his resume.

    However, his career was derailed by injuries as he pitched just 136.2 total innings in the four years leading up to the 2017 season.

    As a result, he was forced to settle for a minor league deal this past offseason, despite showing some promise with a 1.69 ERA in 18 appearances out of the San Diego Padres bullpen.

    That proved to be a terrific roll of the dice by the Dodgers front office. He was called up to the majors at the end of May, and he quickly became one of the most reliable arms in one of the best bullpens in baseball.

    The 33-year-old carries some obvious risk given his injury history, but a guaranteed MLB contract is all but assured this time around and a multi-year deal isn't out of the question.

SP Alex Wood, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    2017 Stats: 25 GS, 16-3, 2.72 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 151 K, 152.1 IP, 3.3 WAR

    2017 Salary: $2.8 million

    2018 Status: Arbitration-eligible (second time)

                 

    Why He Deserves a Raise

    Alex Wood entered the 2017 season with a 3.35 ERA over 499.1 career innings, yet he still found himself on the outside looking in for a spot in the crowded Dodgers rotation.

    An April trip to the disabled list from Rich Hill opened the door for him to join the starting staff, and he never looked back, earning a spot on the NL All-Star team along the way.

    He wasn't quite as a sharp in the second half, going 5-3 with a 4.25 ERA in 11 starts while pitching beyond the sixth inning just twice, but his full body of work still made him one of the biggest surprises of 2017.

    To call him a bargain at $2.8 million would be a massive understatement.

    Dierkes has projected a sizeable raise to $6.4 million in his second year of arbitration, but that's still a price the Dodgers will happily pay to keep the 26-year-old around in the rotation.

RP Ken Giles, Houston Astros

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    2017 Stats: 63 G, 34/38 SV, 2.30 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 11.9 K/9, 1.9 WAR

    2017 Salary: $550,100

    2018 Status: Arbitration-eligible (first time)

                 

    Why He Deserves a Raise

    It cost the Astros five players to acquire Ken Giles prior to the 2016 season, and it's a trade they wouldn't think twice about making again.

    After a shaky first season in Houston that included a 4.11 ERA and five blown saves, he's emerged as a lockdown option in the ninth inning and one of the most dominant closers in the league.

    While his strikeout rate dropped significantly from 14.0 to 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings, he did a better job pitching to contact with his groundball rate (39.6 to 44.0 percent) and soft-contract rate (19.1 to 24.6 percent) both trending upward.

    The 27-year-old will benefit from an arbitration process that still values save total above all else when it comes to relievers.

    However, with a $5 million projected salary, he'll still be making a fraction of his market value as the price of quality relief pitching continues to sky-rocket.

SP Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros

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    Ronald Martinez/Associated Press

    2017 Stats: 23 GS, 14-5, 2.90 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 125 K, 145.2 IP, 3.9 WAR

    2017 Salary: $9.15 million

    2018 Status: Arbitration-eligible (third time)

                 

    Why He Deserves a Raise

    Dallas Keuchel will likely be the topic of extension talks this offseason as he gets set to enter his final year of arbitration.

    The 29-year-old missed some time with a nerve issue in his neck, but overall it was a terrific bounce-back season after a disappointing encore to his 2015 AL Cy Young campaign.

    As a groundball machine (66.8 percent groundball rate) who relies more on command than velocity, he should age well, and his status as a late-bloomer also means there are fewer innings on his arm.

    His $9.15 million salary this season was by no means a pittance, and he's projected for a healthy raise to $12.6 million, but that's still about $10 million shy of what he'd fetch on the open market.

    For now, the Astros have one of the most reasonably priced aces in the game, but buying out his final year of arbitration and locking him up with a big extension would seem to be in the franchise's best interest.

SP/RP Brad Peacock, Houston Astros

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    2017 Stats: 34 G, 21 GS, 13-2, 3.00 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 161 K, 132.0 IP, 3.0 WAR

    2017 Salary: $541,500

    2018 Status: Arbitration-eligible (first time)

              

    Why He Deserves a Raise

    Brad Peacock was a revelation for the Astros this season after he entered spring training out of minor league options and in danger of being a roster casualty.

    Injuries limited the 29-year-old to just 36.2 innings between 2015 and 2016, and he was clearly on the outside of a crowded group of starters vying for a spot in the Houston rotation.

    He began the season in the bullpen but stepped into the rotation in May after posting a 1.10 ERA and 12.1 K/9 in 12 relief appearances.

    From there, he went 11-2 with a 3.27 ERA and 1.21 WHIP the rest of the way, closing out the season with a 2.29 ERA over his final seven starts.

    Despite his age, he'll be arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason, and he's projected for a modest $2.9 million salary.

    Good thing the Astros didn't let him get away this spring.

CF George Springer, Houston Astros

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    John Froschauer/Associated Press

    2017 Stats: 629 PA, .889 OPS, 29 2B, 34 HR, 85 RBI, 112 R, 5.0 WAR

    2017 Salary: $3.9 million

    2018 Status: Arbitration-eligible (second time)

                  

    Why He Deserves a Raise

    George Springer was the catalyst of the best offense in baseball this season, posting a .367 on-base percentage and scoring 112 runs out of the leadoff spot in the lineup.

    He also slugged a career-high 34 home runs and trimmed his strikeout rate from 23.9 to 17.6 percent, all while being asked to slide over from right to center field following the offseason signing of Josh Reddick.

    The 28-year-old is one of the game's most dynamic all-around talents, and he's still getting better.

    He's one of 25 position players who has combined for at least 10.0 WAR over the past two seasons and one of just six outfielders in that group. 

    His salary jumped up to $3.9 million in his first year of arbitration, and he's projected for another good-sized spike to $8.9 million next season.

    He'll be worth every penny.

                 

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, while salary information comes via Spotrac and arbitration projections come from MLBTradeRumors.