For Phillies fans this offseason really has been a continuation of what has been a rough 2 years. The amount of hope left dwindles by the day, and the confidence that tomorrow will be better than today. If you have hope, the year to target is 2016, it is when the contracts start to fall off and the first wave of prospects starts to arrive. On the suggestions of John Stolnis (@FelskeFiles) and Corinne (@Ut26), rather than just start with 2016 or look at the end result in 2018, this is the first part of a step by step transition of a rebuilding team.
In working on this activity here are the starting assumptions:
- The Phillies are not trading away any players
- Minor Leaguers will progress as “normal” and will not have any career ending injuries.
- The Phillies will be rational about resigning players
- I am not accounting for FA acquisitions and Draft Picks, however I will have a salary total that can be used to dream on FA acquisitions that could fill in the holes
- Arbitration figures for salaries are taken from similar players
Obviously these are a lot of assumptions that will not hold true because prospects are unpredictable, draft picks especially the 2014 #7 overall pick could have large influences, and the front office will not be static for the next two years.
With his new deal Ruiz is under contract through the 2016 season and at this point is likely transitioning into more of a backup role. Depending on Joseph’s development you good see anywhere from a 60-40 (either way) to 50-50 playing time split. One half is going to be better offensively and the other will be better defensively. Joseph has his limits and his risks, but he is a sponge when it comes to absorbing knowledge, and Chooch is one of the better catchers when it comes to working with pitching staff. Salary: 9 million
First Base: Ryan Howard
Howard isn’t going anywhere with his contract, and your hope is that by this point he is playing within himself and being managed correctly. Salary: 25 million
Second Base: Chase Utley
I could have gone with Hernandez here, but I think Utley sticks it out into the option years of the contract and provides value when he is on the field. I have him at full salary, but if injuries come along he could provide savings. Salary: 15 million
Crawford in his rookie season is the starter here unless he stumbles at which point it may be Freddy holding down the position for a couple of months. Either way Crawford should get the majority of the ABs. The bat is going to be lacking at this point but the defense is going to be really solid. Salary: 2 million
Franco is the starter here in his second full year in the major leagues. I expect Franco’s early time in the majors is going to be up and down as he refines his approach at the plate. If Franco is going to have a breakout in the majors it should be 2015. Asche would not be a bad starter here and in this scenario might get some ABs as Franco plays 1B when Ryan Howard goes down to injury. Salary: 1 million
Depending on the development of Altherr the highest upside group of starters is Brown-Altherr-Dugan. Altherr has a small chance to be a monster player but it is more likely that he is somewhere around average regular. Dugan is likely closer to a platoon player and Perkins should get ABs against LHPs. Dugan and Perkins can both play both corners as well as 1B adding to the team’s flexibility. Salary: 14 million
The first two names are a lock as Lee has his option vest and begins the last year of his career. The questions come at the back of the rotation with MAG and Morgan (Biddle should be at least a back of the rotation starter), but the team still has Pettibone and possibly Severino Gonzalez to plug in as 4/5 starters. Any version of the Phillies competing is going to come down to Hamels and Lee being aces with MAG and Biddle filling in as mid-rotation guys, if they can do that, they can spare having to put more money into the rotation. Salary: 53.5 million
I went with a bullpen that was cheap and had huge upside with hard throwing arms up and down. By this point Diekman and De Fratus will have three full years in the majors and Martin will have had two years working out of the bullpen. Had to that, flamethrower Ken Giles and you have a great back of the bullpen. Dan Childs is a 2013 draftee with a plus fastball and good looking slider, he ended the year in hi-A and could move very quickly, Jay Johnson has a lot of the things to like about Diekman but with less velocity and a nastier breaking ball. Rasmussen fits in here as the long man, but with his variety of breaking balls and hopefully a small uptick in velocity there is some upside there too. Salary: 5.5 million
So if you have been following along you are wondering where the positive outlook is, that team above really doesn’t look all that different from now, won’t it fail just as much? The answer is yes it will, but what is missing from our exercise are FA’s, sure the market doesn’t look good but because you have now filled in a lot of spots with cheaper players through the farm, that roster above comes in at 124.5 million, and given current projections of the luxury tax, the 2016 tax will be around 189 million. That is 65 million dollars that they can use to upgrade this team. Overall what you gain in the future is salary flexibility as you have players like Franco, Biddle, and Crawford step into starting roles.
Join me next time with 2017, aka the time when Howard’s contract finally runs out.