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Evan Phillips & Brusdar Graterol salary arbitration preview

St. Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers
Evan Phillips #59 and Brusdar Graterol #48 of the Los Angeles Dodgers talk with Actor Phil Dunster prior to the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on April 30, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.
Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The Dodgers’ two best relief pitchers are coming off excellent seasons, and are eligible for salary arbitration this winter for a second time. Evan Phillips and Brusdar Graterol were both Super Two players last year, giving them a head start on the arbitration process.

Phillips was the Dodgers closer in 2023, though the team mixed and matched at times during the season, such that Phillips saved a career-best 24 games, while Graterol saved a career-high seven. Graterol had a 1.20 ERA, second-best in MLB among pitchers with at least 50 innings – behind only old friend Chris Martin with Boston – while Phillips’ 2.05 ERA ranked 13th.

Both had strong peripherals, with Graterol (3.09) and Phillips (3.14) delivering the best expected ERAs on the Dodgers. The duo combined for an 0.82 ERA in 54⅓ innings after the All-Star break.

Graterol has three years, 167 days of major league service time, with Phillips at three years, 136 days. Last year they were Super Two players, among the top 22 percent of players with at least two but not yet three years of service time. That earned them early access to salary arbitration, and potentially four years through the system.

In 2023, Phillips was paid $1.3 million with Graterol at $1.225 million.

Here’s a look at some recent comparable pitchers to Phillips and Graterol, high-leverage arms with some closing experience at similar service times. I expanded the pool a bit to include pitchers with over three years of service but who weren’t Super Two players.

Comparable pitchers to Evan Phillips & Brusdar Graterol, single year

Pitcher Year Service time IP Saves BB rate K rate ERA xERA FIP bWAR fWAR Prev. Salary Salary Increase
Pitcher Year Service time IP Saves BB rate K rate ERA xERA FIP bWAR fWAR Prev. Salary Salary Increase
Evan Phillips* 2024 3.136 61⅓ 24 5.6% 28.2% 2.05 3.14 3.16 1.7 1.2 $1,300,000 TBD TBD
Brusdar Graterol* 2024 3.167 67⅓ 7 4.7% 18.7% 1.20 3.09 3.03 2.5 1.4 $1,225,000 TBD TBD
Gregory Soto 2023 3.102 61⅓ 30 12.9% 22.8% 3.28 4.08 3.59 -0.1 0.6 n/a $3,925,000 n/a
Devin Williams 2023 3.056 60⅔ 15 12.5% 40.0% 1.93 2.04 2.01 2.2 2.2 n/a $3,350,000 n/a
Lou Trivino* 2022 3.162 53⅔ 22 11.0% 21.6% 3.18 4.32 3.78 1.2 0.6 $912,000 $3,000,000 228.9%
Kyle Finnegan 2023 3.000 66⅔ 11 8.2% 26.1% 3.51 3.29 3.76 1.0 0.6 n/a $2,325,000 n/a
A.J. Minter* 2022 3.156 52⅓ 0 9.0% 25.8% 3.78 3.01 2.69 0.2 1.3 $1,300,000 $2,200,000 69.2%
Ryan Helsey 2023 3.105 64⅔ 19 8.4% 39.3% 1.25 2.04 2.34 2.7 2.0 n/a $2,150,000 n/a
Tim Mayza* 2023 3.156 48⅔ 2 6.2% 22.8% 3.14 4.17 3.98 0.6 0.1 $1,250,000 $2,100,000 68.0%
*former Super Two pitcher Sources include MLB Trade Rumors & Cot’s Baseball Contracts

On first glance, a few fellow previous Super Two pitchers link up nicely with these two Dodgers. Lou Trivino, like Phillips in 2023, got his first extended chance as closer in 2021 with the A’s, and parlayed that into a big raise, more than tripling his previous year’s salary. Phillips was also markedly better than Trivino and is starting from a higher base. Trivino’s $3 million serves as the absolute floor for Phillips that he should clear easily.

Graterol matches up nicely with two-years-ago A.J. Minter, both with similar salaries as a Super Two and similar peripheral numbers in their launch year. Graterol also has the edge of a much lower ERA and more saves, making Minter’s $2.2 million the floor for Graterol in 2024.

If we look at the career numbers, a few more things take shape.

Comparable pitchers to Evan Phillips & Brusdar Graterol, career

Pitcher Year Service time IP Saves BB rate K rate ERA FIP bWAR fWAR Prev. Salary Salary Increase
Pitcher Year Service time IP Saves BB rate K rate ERA FIP bWAR fWAR Prev. Salary Salary Increase
Evan Phillips* 2024 3.136 191⅔ 27 9.2% 28.0% 3.38 3.42 3.8 3.6 $1,300,000 TBD TBD
Brusdar Graterol* 2024 3.167 183⅓ 11 5.5% 19.3% 2.80 3.24 3.5 3.0 $1,225,000 TBD TBD
Gregory Soto 2023 3.102 204⅔ 50 13.1% 23.0% 4.13 4.29 1.9 1.1 n/a $3,925,000 n/a
Devin Williams 2023 3.056 155⅓ 18 11.5% 39.5% 2.03 2.34 4.9 4.9 n/a $3,350,000 n/a
Lou Trivino* 2022 3.162 231 26 10.9% 23.9% 3.70 3.96 2.5 1.6 $912,000 $3,000,000 228.9%
Kyle Finnegan 2023 3.000 157⅓ 22 10.3% 24.7% 3.43 4.08 1.3 1.1 n/a $2,325,000 n/a
A.J. Minter* 2022 3.156 179⅔ 20 9.8% 27.3% 3.71 2.89 1.9 3.6 $1,300,000 $2,200,000 69.2%
Ryan Helsey 2023 3.105 160⅔ 21 10.3% 28.2% 2.91 3.61 2.7 2.1 n/a $2,150,000 n/a
Tim Mayza* 2023 3.156 205⅔ 3 8.0% 25.9% 3.98 3.75 2.0 1.6 $1,250,000 $2,100,000 68.0%
*former Super Two pitcher Sources include MLB Trade Rumors & Cot’s Baseball Contracts

Minter had previous closer experience, and at this point in their careers had more saves than Graterol. They still matchup nicely in other numbers, with Graterol having the better ERA and Minter the better FIP. Minter strikes out more, but also walks more. Graterol has a much better career bWAR, Minter has a slight edge in fWAR.

Ryan Helsley is another comparable pitcher in career numbers, with Graterol having a better ERA, FIP, bWAR, and fWAR and 23 more innings. Helsley, with 21 career saves to Graterol’s 11, earned $2.15 million in 2023, but that was his first time eligible for arbitration. Graterol as a Super Two last year is working from a larger platform.

With Phillips, he easily outpaces Trivino in career numbers, and also compares nicely to Devin Williams of the Brewers. Williams is more dominant, overcoming Phillips’ 23-percent advantage in innings with more career bWAR and fWAR. Phillips leads in saves, 27 to 18. Williams’ $3.35 million in 2023 might serve as an upper limit for Phillips, but that was Williams’ first time through arbitration. Phillips starting from $1.3 million last year might be enough to vault him over Williams.

Phillips also compares favorably to Gregory Soto, with better numbers across the board except for Soto’s 50 career saves compared to 27 for Phillips. Soto earned $3.925 million last year in his first arb year, a seemingly unattainable number for Phillips, but he could get close thanks to starting as a Super Two last year.

MLB Trade Rumors projects Phillips to make $3.4 million in 2024, while Cot’s Baseball Contracts has him at $3.1 million. Cot’s has $2.55 million for Graterol, with MLB Trade Rumors at $2.5 million, a much closer spread.

I think Phillips falls a little shy of Williams, ending up at $3.2 million, with Graterol getting $2.4 million. Perhaps this is me overcompensating after guessing high on both last January.