MLB Trade Rumors runs Matt Swartz’s arbitration projections, based off an algorithmic model developed by Swartz, every offseason, and the projections for the 2021 salaries for arbitration-eligible players are now up at MLBTR.
Because of the unusual pandemic-shortened season, Swartz offers up three different projections, based on three different set of assumptions, though I expect v2, which uses what the counting stats would have been extrapolated out to be for each player if a 162 game had been played, rather than just the 60 game season, is probably the most accurate.
The Rangers look to have four arbitration-eligible players, in Joey Gallo, Rafael Montero, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Danny Santana, all of whom are projected. Ronald Guzman doesn’t appear to have enough time to qualify as a Super Two.
Santana is expected to miss much of the first part of the 2021 season after undergoing elbow surgery, and is in his final season before being eligible for free agency, so I do not expect the Rangers to keep him on the 40 man roster. Gallo, Montero and Kiner-Falefa all project to have fairly low salaries, coming in in aggregate at around $10 million.
The Rangers currently have only seven players under contract for 2021 — Elvis Andrus, Lance Lynn, Kyle Gibson, Rougned Odor, Jordan Lyles, Jose Leclerc and Joely Rodriguez — for a total of around $62-64 million, depending on how you treat prorated portions of signing bonuses. If we assume that ends up at around $75 million including the three arbitration cases and the buyout of Corey Kluber’s option, that theoretically leaves a lot of funds available to pursue free agents.
Of course, the Rangers have also indicated that payroll will drop in 2021, and the team will be looking to go with more young players. That doesn’t mean that the Rangers will forego signing any free agents, but it also means that it is less likely that the Rangers use any of the payroll savings from guys dropping off the books after 2020 to spend big.