Our next salary arbitration preview for the Dodgers involves Drew Butera, vying for the backup catchers spot for a second year in a row.
Butera hit just .188/.267/.288 on the season, and is a career .183/.239/.268 hitter. He was above average in throwing out runners both in 2014 (32.4 percent in 2014, compared to league rate of 28 percent) and in his career (32.7 percent career compared to 27 percent for the league). He was above average in catcher framing (+1.9 runs) in 2014 for the first time in his career, after rating 15.7 runs below average through 2013.
He also was near the top of the leaderboard with nine passed balls despite catching only 57 games.
But Butera is also one of three catchers on the 40-man roster, with a very limited free agent market, and to keep him around we are talking about a backup catcher salary, which is relatively small.
Here are some backup catchers in recent years with similar service time and performance to Butera.
|Single-season arbitration-eligible backup catchers
As you can see, a raise is almost inevitable, though again we are talking relatively small numbers here.
Butera, like his competition Tim Federowicz, is out of options, which means by next spring one of them will be removed from the 40-man roster, if not sooner. This is before even considering the Dodgers bringing in another catcher on a major league deal.
With the relatively low risk of keeping someone around at least into spring training, and the non-guaranteed nature of arbitration contracts, I think Butera gets tendered a contract by the Dec. 2 deadline and sticks around, at least until the team finds a better option. Though a non-tender wouldn't surprise me either.
Last year, Butera and the club agreed to a deal before that deadline, and I think that happens again by next week.
MLB Trade Rumors projected a salary of $900,000 for Butera in 2015.
I think the raise for Butera ends up a little smaller, somewhere between the percentage increases seen by Flores and Baker. I'll guess $825,000.