Ronald Belisario and salary arbitration

Scott Cunningham

A look at what the relief pitcher might earn in 2013, his first season eligible for salary arbitration. Belisario, like catcher A.J. Ellis, is a Super Two, with two years, 151 days of major league service time.

The Dodgers have a pair of players eligible for salary arbitration, which will start to sort itself out in January. We already took a look at catcher A.J. Ellis; now let's examine the case of relief pitcher Ronald Belisario, who executed quite a renaissance in 2012.

Tuesday, Jan. 15 is the date for players to file for salary arbitration, and both player and team will exchange salary figures on Friday, Jan. 18. If the two sides can't come to an agreement, salary arbitration hearings will be scheduled for some time between Feb. 1-20.

Belisario missed all of 2011 with visa problems and entered 2012 holding on to his roster spot by a thread. The Dodgers took a chance on Belisario by keeping him around, and it paid off big time. After missing the first 25 games of the season for violating baseball's drug policy, stemming from a positive test for cocaine, Belisario was a reliable rock in the Dodgers bullpen.

Even after missing nearly a month, Belisario led the bullpen with 68 appearances and 71 innings, and showed flashes of his 2009 form. He was 8-1 with a 2.54 ERA, 69 strikeouts and 29 walks, and was a staple in the seventh and eighth innings all season.

Belisario has two years, 151 days of service time and is eligible for salary arbitration as a Super Two, in the top 22% in service time of players with at least two years but not yet three years of major league service. Ellis is also a Super Two.

Because he is not a closer — Belisario had one save in 2012 and has three in his career — his payday won't be too large. But he will be in line for a reasonable raise from the $480,000 he earned in 2012.

There are a ton of non-closer relief pitchers that were arbitration eligible in the last two seasons. Thanks in part to Cot's Baseball Contracts and MLB Trade Rumors, we can look at the ones with three years of service time as well as the Super Twos. First, here is the group from 2011:

2011 Arbitration Eligible Relief Pitchers
Pitcher Team Service Time Salary
Joba Chamberlain NYY 3.055 $1,400,000
Joel Hanrahan Pit 3.065 $1,400,000
Craig Breslow Oak 3.088 $1,400,000
Kyle McClellan StL 3.000 $1,375,000
Santiago Casilla Bal 3.148 $1,300,000
Darren O'Day Tex 2.128 $1,251,000
Brad Ziegler Oak 2.122 $1,250,000
Kameron Loe Mil 3.133 $1,250,000
Jim Johnson Bal 2.165 $975,000
Eric O'Flaherty Atl 3.062 $895,000
Joe Smith Cle 3.132 $870,000
Edward Mujica Fla 3.115 $800,000
Burke Badenhop Fla 2.143 $750,000
Jared Burton Cin 3.014 $750,000
Doug Slaten Was 3.067 $695,000
Bill Bray Cin 3.000 $645,000

Chamberlain isn't a perfect comp since he was a starter for over a year before hitting arbitration. Loe also had 47 starts. Looking at the pitchers at the top of the scale, we can get an idea of where Belisario fits in with bulk numbers.

  • Hanrahan ($1.4 million): 269 innings, 4.45 ERA, 140 walks, 308 strikeouts, 20 saves (and 11 starts)
  • Breslow ($1.4 million): 219⅔ innings, 2.87 ERA, 96 walks, 191 strikeouts, six saves
  • McClellan ($1.375 million): 217⅔ innings, 3.23 ERA, 83 walks, 170 strikeouts, six saves
  • Casilla ($1.3 million): 215⅔ innings, 4.30 ERA, 106 walks, 194 strikeouts, six saves
  • Belisario (to be determined): 197 innings, 3.06 ERA, 77 walks, 171 strikeouts, three saves
  • O'Day ($1.251 million): 164 innings, 2.63 ERA, 44 walks, 130 strikeouts, two saves
  • Ziegler ($1.25 million): 193⅔ innings, 2.51 ERA, 78 walks, 125 strikeouts, 18 saves
  • Johnson ($975,000): 170 innings, 3.65 ERA, 61 strikeouts, 110 strikeouts, 12 saves
  • O'Flaherty ($895,000*): 170⅓ innings, 4.07 ERA, 66 walks, 121 strikeouts, no saves

*O'Flaherty's salary was the first year of a two-year contract.

In 2012, the price of setup men went up.

2012 Arbitration Eligible Relief Pitchers
Pitcher Team Service Time Salary
Tyler Clippard Was 2.148 $1,650,000
David Robertson NYY 3.070 $1,600,000
Sergio Romo SF 3.097 $1,575,000
Luke Gregerson SD 3.000 $1,550,000
Darren O'Day Bal 3.103 $1,350,000
Alfredo Aceves
Bos 3.001 $1,200,000
Phil Coke Det 3.028 $1,100,000
Burke Badenhop TB 3.143 $1,075,000
Evan Meek Pit 3.037 $875,000
Manny Acosta NYM 3.066 $875,000
Franklin Morales Bos 3.007 $850,000
Jose Arredondo Cin 2.168 $800,000
Joe Thatcher SD 3.068 $700,000
Shawn Kelley Sea 2.160 $600,000

Again, let's look from the top end of the market and work down to see where Belisario might fit. Coke pitched in 55 games but also made 14 starts in 2011 so he isn't a perfect comp.

  • Clippard ($1.65 million): Had a 1.83 ERA in 2011, and back-to-back years of 100 or more strikeouts
  • Robertson ($1.6 million): His platform year included a 1.08 ERA and 100 strikeouts; 270 strikeouts in 202 career innings
  • Romo ($1.575 million): 1.50 ERA in 2011; 2.33 career ERA in 178 innings, with 214 strikeouts and 38 walks
  • Gregerson ($1.55 million): 209 innings, 3.10 ERA, 68 walks, 216 strikeouts, three saves
  • Belisario (to be determined): 197 innings, 3.06 ERA, 77 walks, 171 strikeouts, three saves
  • O'Day ($1.35 million): pitched only 16⅔ innings in 2011; 180⅔ innings, 2.89 ERA, 49 walks, 148 strikeouts
  • Aceves ($1.2 million): pitched 114 innings in 2012 (including four starts), was 10-2 with a 2.61 ERA and 80 strikeouts
  • Badenhop ($1.075 million): 250⅔ innings, 4.34 ERA, 90 walks, 190 strikeouts, two saves
  • Meek ($875,000): pitched only 20⅔ innings in 2011; 160⅓ innings, 3.08 ERA, 84 strikeouts, 136 strikeouts, four saves
  • Acosta ($875,000): 200⅔ innings, 3.41 ERA, 92 walks, 173 strikeouts, eight saves

This was by no means a complete look, but my guess is that Belisario won't quite hit $1.5 million in arbitration, but will end up just north of $1.25 million or so.

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