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Bringing Alex Gordon and Robinson Tejeda under contract for 2010, the Royals clear the deck of all their arbitration-eligible cases while Dayton Moore retains a perfect record in these situations He s never had a player who was eligible for arbitration go all the way to a hearing.

Granted, he s only been the general manager for four years, but that s still a good bullet point to have on your resume. Nothing positive comes from arbitration, where players try to inflate their value and teams turn the tables and claim the player wasn t really all that good. It s a process that can only harbor ill will. Everyone says it s just business, but it can certainly get personal from time to time. Why take that risk?

The Royals entered this winter with 10 players eligible for arbitration. Moore summarily cleared the decks at a cost of only $6.865 million. He dealt with 10 players for under $7 million. That s amazing. We knew heading into this winter that the Royals were in for some financial belt-tightening, but for Moore to do so well He should get some Wal-Mart stock at a discount. Or at the very least, a stake in Danny s next business venture.

Moore released John Bale, Mike Jacobs and John Buck. (I m still not pleased at the decision to jettison Buck.) Doug Waechter was outrighted to Triple-A and is off the 40-man roster. Lenny DiNardo elected to take free agency. That left five players who settled: Brian Bannister, Roman Colon, Kyle Davies and Gordon and Tejeda.

Frankly, I m surprised at the Gordon contract. Check out the stats for the following mystery players entering their first year of arbitration eligibility, including their salaries for the following season. All four players were with the Royals with Dayton Moore in charge when they first became eligible. See if you can make sense of the numbers.

Arbitration

Player A is Mike Jacobs. Player B is Mark Teahen. Player C is John Buck. And Player D we know is Alex Gordon.

I had estimated that Colon and Gordon would earn $3.5 million between them. I didn t break it down further, but I remember my thinking was Colon would earn close to Tejeda money ($750k or so) with Gordon picking up about $2.5 million. (The discrepancy between the numbers in this paragraph is my way of covering my ass.)

So let s just say I was surprised Gordon ended up with his contract for $1.15 million.

He s been worth more wins during his brief career than any of the other guys, but his batting average and slugging percentage aren t the greatest. Obviously, he missed all that time last summer with his hip injury, so I guess that had to have been a huge factor. Well, and the fact he had his worst season as a professional that included an unexpected Nebraska homecoming. I guess they don t look at the overall body of work for a first year eligible player. Timing is everything.

Let s see how the salary picture shapes up now that the Royals have 20 players under contract for 2010:

2010Salary2

Some notes on the above table.

– Yuniesky Betancourt s actual salary will be $3.375 million, but as part of the trade that brought him to Kansas City, the Royals will owe him $2 million.

– The Royals owe $1.1 million in contract buyouts to Coco Crisp, Miguel Olivo and Yashuhiko Yabuta.

– The Royals are kicking $1.5 million to the White Sox to cover part of Mark Teahen s 2010 salary.

– Noel Arguelles and Aaron Crow both have major league deals, but since both will likely begin the season in the minors, their numbers won t ultimately be figured in the final Opening Day payroll count.

By removing Arguelles and Crow, the Royals are currently around $63 million. And that means they will have 7 roster spots to fill. Assuming these go to Billy Butler, Chris Getz, Josh Fields, Alberto Callaspo, Brayan Pena and a couple of relievers of your choosing, we can figure the Royals will pay this group of seven around $3.5 million collectively.

That will put the Royals Opening Day payroll at $66.5 million. That s down $4 million from last year.

Here s Bob Dutton from last December:

The Royals are now projecting a payroll of about $66-67 million on their opening day 25-man roster.

Nailed it.

The Royals will operate with the same budget as last year, but Moore will bank the surplus and save it for some flexibility for player acquisitions in the middle of the season. Since he used some flexibility last summer to acquire Betancourt, I’m not sure that’s a good thing. Stay healthy, Royals.