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Marcum Avoids Arbitration, Brewers Get Great Value

Shaun Marcum and the Brewers were scheduled to head into an arbitration hearing today, but managed to work out a deal at the 11th hour late Wednesday night. Marcum will make $3.95 million, which is actually a touch below the midpoint between his demand of $5 million and the team’s offer of $3 million. As Adam McCalvy reports, though, Marcum will have the ability to earn that money back through performance bonuses.

Marcum pitching for less than $4 million in base salary is just the latest in a long list of bargains the Brewers have on their roster. Last season, FanGraphs had Marcum at 3.5 WAR, good for an estimated market value of $14 million. Toronto paid him $850k for that kind of production since he was coming off of Tommy John surgery. If he can reproduce last year’s numbers — very good, despite playing in the AL East — he should be worth every penny of that $4+ million once he hits his incentives.

Other bargains on the roster this season: Yovani Gallardo will be making $3.5 million this year, and just in case you forgot how team-friendly Ryan Braun‘s deal is, I’ll remind you that he’s making $4,287,500 this season. That’s just a touch more than what the Brewers will be paying Yuniesky Betancourt**. Just for the sake of comparison, FanGraphs lists last year’s dollar values for Gallardo and Braun at $18.5 million and $16.6 million, respectively.

It really is unusual to have so much talent on a team with such a limited budget, but keeping Prince Fielder and trading for Zack Greinke is only possible with players like Marcum, Gallardo, and Braun playing for less than they’d be worth on the open market. As we already know, though, this kind of budget wizardry is only sustainable for a year or two before the club has to start over.

Of course, there are other benefits to getting this deal with Marcum done — Marcum’s first impression of the organization won’t be based on an arby hearing (with the team pointing out all of his faults), full attention can now be turned to getting Rickie Weeks signed, and depending on how the team budgeted its resources, they may have an extra $1 million to play with this year. With everyone in good graces, there’s still a chance for a longterm extension down the line, but one would expect that deal to be closer to his perceived market value.

**I originally wrote that the Brewers will be paying Betancourt more than Ryan Braun this season, looking at the Cot’s contract obligations for 2011. As klwillis45 points out in the comments, Seattle is kicking in an additional $1 million for Yuni that for whatever reason, Cot’s isn’t listing. The Brewers will only be on the hook for about $3 million this year.