Arbitration estimates for 7 Dodgers shows the team has a few difficult decisions to make

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The Dodgers have seven players who are arbitration eligible this off-season, and Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors completed all his arbitration estimates yesterday, which highlighted the fact that the Dodgers have a bunch of decisions to make.

Swartz has generally been spot on in his estimates of money, but cost isn’t what’s important to the Dodgers. Sure, to an extent I still think it matters to get decent value, but the more important factor is whether or not the player deserves to take a 40-man or 25-man roster spot.

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Clayton Kershaw – $18.25 Million

I don’t want him to make this in 2013 because I want him extended.

Kenley Jansen – $4.8 Million

Team should go year to year on Kenley. Nothing to do with a lack of faith in him, as most of you know that I’m a fan, but relievers are notoriously volatile — whether due to injury or ineffectiveness — no matter how awesome they are.

A.J. Ellis – $3.2 Million

Not a spring chicken, but unless the Dodgers change directions sharply, I expect him to be back as an average to above average starter, and he’ll be a bargain at this price.

Ronald Belisario – $2.3 Million

This is arguably the first real tough decision for the team. Here is Beli’s history with the Dodgers: 2.05 ERA in 2009, 5.04 ERA in 2010, missed 2011 with visa issues, 2.54 ERA in 2012, and 3.97 ERA in 2013. Worse yet, his FIPs show the same trend (3.51/4.31/3.09/3.64), so it’s hard to get a read on what his true talent level is.

I doubt they get rid of him, if for no other reason than familiarity, but if they do choose not to bring him back, I think that reflects a lot on his collapse down the stretch and the health of his right arm.

Drew Butera – $700K

I guess they could keep him, which says more about the team’s catching depth than him.

Scott Elbert – $600K

One part of me says he’s cheap, he’s a lefty reliever, and he was extremely effective in 2011 and 2012 for the Dodgers. The other part of me can only think about the fifty trillion surgeries he’s had on his elbow and shoulder, and then wonder if he’ll even be that guy anymore. Plus, he isn’t due back until probably the All-Star break given that his Tommy John surgery was in June.

Honestly, we’ll find out a lot about what the Dodgers think of his health when this decision is made.

Mike Baxter – $500K

The team designated Alex Castellanos for him, though I assume he would be the first one off the 40-man if they needed to clear room for a signing. They must have acquired him for some other reason than to be a sixth or seventh option in the NLCS/World Series, right?

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