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Ryan Yarbrough 2024 salary arbitration preview

Los Angeles Dodgers v Washington Nationals Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The salary arbitration case for Ryan Yarbrough boils down to how to properly value the relatively unheralded role of a swingman.

The Dodgers kept Yarbrough off the National League Division Series roster in October, though that was partially driven by the plethora of right-handed batters in the Diamondbacks lineup. Yarbrough’s numbers at first glance don’t stand out – he’s had ERAs of 4.50 or higher for three years running, with FIPs between 4.38 and 4.77 during that time.

But he’s properly lauded by teammates and the coaching staff for eating innings, for pitching whenever asked, sometimes in thankless roles.

With five years, 117 days of major league service time, Yarbrough is eligible for salary arbitration for a fourth time. He made $2.3 million as a Super Two player in 2021, then earned $3.85 million in 2022 before getting non-tendered by the Rays after the season. Yarbrough signed a one-year deal with the Royals for $3 million, and was traded to the Dodgers at the August 1 trade deadline.

Yarbrough actually had a higher ERA (4.89) and FIP (4.52) with the Dodgers than the Royals (4.24 ERA, 4.27 FIP). But his numbers with the Dodgers were much better in his first 10 appearances (3.12 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 9.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio) before a blowup start at Coors Field in the season’s final week tainted the left-hander’s final numbers.

The swingman label is fairly broad, as Yarbough has 68 career starts to go with 84 relief appearances. But 21 of those relief appearances lasted at least five innings, and another 21 relief outings saw the left-hander record between 12 and 14 outs. Yarbrough is a bulk guy, really.

Here are some pitchers with over five years of service time in recent years, trying to find comparable salaries.

Pitchers comparable to Ryan Yarbrough, single year

Pitchers Arb year Service Games Starts IP W-L K ERA ERA+ FIP bWAR fWAR Prev. Salary Salary Increase
Pitchers Arb year Service Games Starts IP W-L K ERA ERA+ FIP bWAR fWAR Prev. Salary Salary Increase
Ryan Yarbrough 2024 5.117 25 9 89⅔ 8-7 67 4.52 98 4.38 0.8 0.8 $3,000,000 TBD TBD
Brad Keller 2023 5.000 35 22 139⅔ 6-14 102 5.09 80 4.50 0.2 0.7 $4,825,000 $5,775,000 19.7%
Jack Flaherty 2023 5.006 9 8 36 2-1 33 4.25 93 4.97 -0.1 0.0 $5,000,000 $5,400,000 8.0%
Reynaldo López 2023 5.004 61 1 65⅓ 6-4 63 2.76 145 1.93 1.5 2.0 $2,625,000 $3,625,000 38.1%
Jakob Junis 2023 5.002 23 17 112 5-7 98 4.42 89 3.65 1.6 1.3 $1,750,000 $2,800,000 60.0%
Luis Cessa 2023 5.131 46 10 80⅔ 4-4 59 4.57 95 5.02 0.8 0.0 $1,800,000 $2,650,000 47.2%
Michael Fulmer 2022 5.157 52 4 69⅔ 5-6 73 2.97 143 3.46 1.9 1.5 $3,100,000 $4,950,000 59.7%
Trevor Williams 2022 5.027 23 15 91 4-2 90 4.35 96 3.88 0.3 1.2 $2,500,000 $3,900,000 56.0%
Steven Matz 2021 5.099 9 6 30⅔ 0-5 36 9.68 44 7.76 -1.0 -0.7 $5,000,000 $5,200,000 4.0%
Vince Velasquez 2021 5.086 9 7 34 1-1 46 5.56 81 4.16 0.4 0.6 $3,600,000 $4,000,000 11.1%
Sources include MLB Trade Rumors & Cot’s Baseball Contracts

I included more traditional starters like Steven Matz, Jack Flaherty, and Brad Keller to set an upper limit of sorts for Yarbrough, who has more innings than any other pitcher on this list at that point in their careers. Plus, Yarbrough was on track to be in this range of salary before getting non-tendered by Tampa Bay last offseason.

For the more traditional swingmen on this list, some of the salaries are lower than Yarbrough made last season, but the year-over-year increase is the number to watch here.

Pitchers comparable to Ryan Yarbrough, career numbers

Pitchers Arb year Service Games Starts IP W-L K ERA ERA+ FIP bWAR fWAR Prev. Salary Salary Increase
Pitchers Arb year Service Games Starts IP W-L K ERA ERA+ FIP bWAR fWAR Prev. Salary Salary Increase
Ryan Yarbrough 2024 5.117 152 68 669⅓ 48-38 534 4.36 95 4.18 3.4 6.6 $3,000,000 TBD TBD
Brad Keller 2023 5.000 139 105 633⅔ 35-49 475 4.25 105 4.21 8.8 8.0 $4,825,000 $5,775,000 19.7%
Jack Flaherty 2023 5.006 102 98 523⅓ 34-25 600 3.41 119 3.92 8.9 8.4 $5,000,000 $5,400,000 8.0%
Reynaldo López 2023 5.004 173 97 613⅔ 36-42 534 4.43 98 4.51 5.1 8.2 $2,625,000 $3,625,000 38.1%
Jakob Junis 2023 5.002 128 106 627⅓ 34-42 566 4.75 93 4.54 6.4 5.6 $1,750,000 $2,800,000 60.0%
Luis Cessa 2023 5.131 201 29 399 16-18 320 4.13 106 4.66 4.1 1.4 $1,800,000 $2,650,000 47.2%
Michael Fulmer 2022 5.157 137 89 553⅓ 29-39 449 3.95 111 4.03 11.8 9.4 $3,100,000 $4,950,000 59.7%
Trevor Williams 2022 5.027 129 109 625⅔ 35-39 506 4.42 95 4.47 4.9 6.7 $2,500,000 $3,900,000 56.0%
Steven Matz 2021 5.099 112 107 579⅔ 31-41 552 4.35 92 4.49 5.8 5.1 $5,000,000 $5,200,000 4.0%
Vince Velasquez 2021 5.086 131 106 556⅔ 28-35 615 4.72 90 4.33 4.1 7.2 $3,600,000 $4,000,000 11.1%
Sources include MLB Trade Rumors & Cot’s Baseball Contracts

Cot’s Baseball Contracts projects Yarbrough to make $4 million in 2024, while MLB Trade Rumors slates him at $3.8 million.

I think Yarbrough can beat those projections, and I think he’s better than Vince Velasquez was three years ago while earning $4 million. I’ll guess $4.25 million for Yarbrough in 2024, and that should be a bargain for one of the only three left-handed pitchers currently on the Dodgers 40-man roster.