Gerrymandering the Phillies 2021 Active and Reserve Rosters

The following is an accurate snapshot of the Phillies current roster situation and some potential moves.  Some not all.

The Competitive Balance Tax threshold in 2021 is $210,000,000.  For ease of understanding and typing let’s call it what it really is, a CAP.

By my calculations, the Phillies can find themselves $72,932,218 below the CAP going into the 2020-21 offseason.

This doesn’t mean that the Phillies will spend up to the CAP limit.  We certainly know that they are loathe to go over the CAP limit.  Recent statements by John Meddleton regarding next season and the unknown actions of the governor and mayor should plant a fear that they will not spend as much as fans hope.

Let’s see how I arrived at the $72,932,218 figure.

Fixed Costs ($129,488,462 of which $118,751,282 counts against the CAP)

The Phillies have a lot of dollars tied up in existing contracts and sunk costs.

First, there is Odubel Herrera’s salary which is $10,350,000 (a $3,000,000 increase over 2020) of which $6,100,000 will go against the CAP.

Second, there are Players’ Benefits which are estimated to be $15,500,000 (a $500,000 increase over 2020) all of which counts against the CAP.

Third, there are the salaries of the 14 minor league players who fill out slots 27 through 40 on the 40-man roster.  The estimated to cost of those salaries is the same $2,250,000 in 2021 as it cost in 2020.  This figure also goes against the CAP.

And finally, there are the six existing contracts for Bryce Harper, Zack Wheeler, Andrew McCutchen, JeanSegura, Aaron Nola, and Scott Kingery.  They will cost a cumulative $101,388.462 in 2021, a $10,250,000 increase over 2020.  Only, $94,901,282 will go against the CAP.

So, before addressing options and arbitrations, the 2021 Phillies have a fixed cost of $129,488,462 of which $118,751,282 counts against the CAP.

Now, unless the Phillies have a change of heart concerning Herrera, that covers six players – half of their infield, two-thirds of their outfield, two-fifths of their starting rotation, and all 40-man roster players NOT on the 40-man roster.  So, they need to fill 20 active roster spots.

The Options ($0 cost, $0 against the CAP)

The Phillies have three options, only two of which will cost them buyouts.  Assuming they decline all three options on Robertson ($2,000,000), Phelps ($250,000) and Neris the Phillies will incur $2,250,000 in buyout costs, but save $12,350,000 of the $14,600,000 of the 2021 salary these players would have received.  The buyouts go against the CAP

The Arbitration Eligible Players (a potential $14,298,500 against the CAP)

Nine Phillies are arbitration eligible – Velasquez, Eflin, Hembree, Morgan, Hale, Knapp, Hoskins, Dominguez, and Arano.  After the free agent market, the arbitration pay scale is probably the most difficult off season baseball item to predict.  However, we can project who the Phillies will tender contracts.  Eflin, Hoskins, and Knapp are locks.  Dominguez and Arano are very likely.  Velasquez, Hembree, Morgan, and Hale are suspects from the worst bullpen in recent history.

So, based on MLBTR’s arbitration estimates, Eflin ($5,500,00), Knapp ($1,500,00), Hoskins ($5,500,00), Dominguez ($900,000), and Arano ($898,500) could run as high as $14,298,500).  All will go against the CAP.  Personally, I think that Hoskins’, Dominguez’, and Arano’s estimates are too high.  I can make a case for tendering Velasquez and Morgan, but I can make a better case for non-tendering.

Since Dominguez will be added to the 60-dal Injury List at the start of the season, that gives us 10 players on the active roster.  We’ve added a catcher, first baseman, starting pitcher, and a reliever, and raised the costs against the CAP to $133,049,782 and still need 16 players on the active roster.

The Pre-Arbitration Players (a potential $4,018,000 against the CAP)

With just 10 guys on the active roster, it’s time to fill some of the 16 remaining spots from within the organization.  We have a catcher, 3 infielders, 2 outfielders, 3 starting pitchers, one reliever coming off rehab (Arano).

Alec Bohm should certainly be on the roster.  Unless, the Phillies get tricky and find a reason to option him to Lehigh Valley to create an extra year of control.  That would take balls after the season he just had.  But, until it doesn’t happen, it might.  If it does, that would be a signal that the Phillies are not playing to win.

Adam Haseley should be on the roster as the center fielder or as the fourth outfielder.  He can play all three outfield positions and was hitting .333 when he went on the IL on August 12th.  He finished the season hitting a respectable .278.

IMO, Roman Quinn is a non-tender candidate unless you want to keep him as a platoon option with Haseley in center.  Personally, I’m over Quinn.  He just completed his ninth professional season, and he still hasn’t learned how to bunt effectively.  He also doesn’t hit the ball on the ground or beat out infield hits often enough.  He doesn’t take advantage of his speed.  He is the prototypical little guy trying to hit like a big guy.  I’ve seen enough.  Don’t need to see anymore.

Spencer Howard is a possible addition to the rotation.  I’m not convinced he’s ready.  He might benefit by starting the season in Triple-A.  He still hasn’t thrown close to his career high 112.0 innings pitched that he threw in 2018 with Lakewood.  He may be best handled on an innings limit, especially with his shoulder.

I have no problem stocking the bullpen with guys from the farm like Cleavinger, Rosso, Brogdon, Romero, Sanchez, Dohy, Jones, Warren, and Singer.  I’m sure the Phillies will sign some free agents.  I hope two are back-end guys.  I also don’t have a problem bringing back Robertson, Neris, and Alvarez on acceptable contracts.  But not as the two backend guys.  They would unfortunately bump a couple of in-house guys back to Lehigh Valley.

Rafael Marchan starts in Reading or Lehigh Valley.  I would still rather pair Knapp with one of the older, defensive, free agent catchers on the market.  I know that’s not a popular decision, but I don’t care.

That brings the active roster up to 17 guys (plus Dominguez).  If the seven new additions are all pre-arb guys (Bohm, Haseley, plus 5 relievers like Rosso, Brogdon, Romero, Sanchez, and Jones, for example)they will all make league minimum except Haseley.  I’ve estimated$573,000 for league minimum and $580,000 for Haseley.  That’s another $4,018,000 in salary that all goes against the CAP, bringing the total cost against CAP to $137,067,782.

That also lengthens the roster to one catcher (Knapp), a complete infield (Hoskins, Kingery, Segura, Bohm), a complete outfield (McCutchen, Haseley, Harper), 3 starting pitchers (Wheeler, Nola, Eflin), and 6 relievers (Arano, Rosso, Brogdon, Romero, Sanchez, and Jones).

Then What

So far, I’ve filled 17 active roster spots (plus Dominguez).  The Phillies should use the other 9 spots to fill obvious holes and upgrade some existing spots.  By my calculations, they have the $72,932,218 I mentioned above available to fill out their active roster.

The shopping list for the 9 players should be a catcher, an upgrade at shortstop/midllie infielder, an everyday centerfielder/platoon with Haseley, two back-end relivers, 2 mid-rotation starters, an upgrade at first base if Hoskins isn’t ready, and a bench bat/outfielder.

Now, we have to believe that Meddleton is willing to spend up to the CAP.  I’m skeptical as I mentioned above.  But, let’s continue as though he is willing.

Soon the Phillies will have extended a qualifying offer to Realmuto and possibly Gregorius.  We all expect Realmuto to decline.  But, Gregorius may accept depending on the free agent market.  I’m sure his people already know what to expect in the way of offers.  A one-year, $18,900,000 contract with a re-entry to free agency next offseason might not look like a bad option.  That doesn’t rule out a possible 2-3 year contract with the Phillies in lieu of the one-year QO.  An accepted QO counts against the CAP and lowers the under CAP balance to $54,032,218 but settles the infield.

For this exercise, let’s assume DiDi declines.

$72,932,218 is not a lot of money to sign 9 players.  Especially if one is a catcher who will command an AAV above $20M.

The top free agents will likely drag out their negotiations for several weeks.

I would hope that the Phillies would follow the Braves model from last offseason and sign the 2 best relievers on the market early.

Then try to lock up a couple starting pitchers, early.

They can negotiate with Realmuto and still go out and sign a middle infielder while doing so.

If/when dollars become short they can always fill the Hoskins insurance plan and bench/OF bat from within (with two of Listi, Hall, Moniak, Maton, Williams – guys I wouldn’t mind seeing in pinstripes).

If they are serious about signing Realmuto, I think they have to address all their other needs first and go over the CAP if necessary.  If not, then they can sign a platoon catcher as I suggest or sign McCann who most everyone seems to want.

In any event, I think that retaining Realmuto and/or Gregorius really restricts the Phillies ability to address their more serious pitching concerns, even in this COVID affected market.

If the Phillies choose to re-sign Neris or Robertson to lower than their options major league contracts, they would bump lower salaried pre-arb guys off the active roster and lower the amount available to sign free agents.  They should NOT be the two back-end pitchers the Phillies should seek to sign.  The same goes for Alvarez who is a free agent.

I wouldn’t mind signing Gosselin, but his major league salary before adjustment last season was $1,000,000.  He would likely be seeking and deserve a raise.

FWIW, I would add the following Rule 5 eligible pitchers to the 40-man roster – Kyle Dohy, Damon Jones, Francisco Morales, Zach Warren, Jake Hernandez, Bailey Falter, and David Parkinson.

And finally, of all the things that transpired last season, I think the one move that bothered me the most was the inclusion of Connor Seabold in the deal with Boston.

I voted today.  Don’t forget to vote!


42 thoughts on “Gerrymandering the Phillies 2021 Active and Reserve Rosters

  1. Agee…..the Seabold addition to that Sox trade seem to be too much….there are virtually a dozen other lower A pitchers that a good GM would have offered up to the Sox for their choice of one , to go along with Pivetta.
    Matt K may have got snookered on that exchange..

  2. jim, please correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t the addition of Seabold to save on the salary so we remained cap compliant?

    1. matt13…Jim will answer you on the fiscal issue,
      ….but Seabold though was due to be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this Dec unless placed on the 40 He was drafted in 2017 with Howard, Brogdon among others.
      So he would definitely be placed on it next month if not for the trade.

    2. Matt, Seabold wasn’t on the 40. He wasn’t counted against the CAP. Oh, you mean the Phillies included him to get the $815K to offset the salaries of Workman and HRembree? If so, it was an unnecessary overpay on the Phillies part. MK didn’t want to include Seabold. Meds overruled him. Meds had wanted to make a splash with a Hader trade that fell through (you’d be shocked at the names and the number of them rumored to be on the table when MIL backed out), Meds wanted a quick deal to make up for the lost Hader deal. Hence, the two trades with the Yankees and Sox. They still tried to get Hader and settled on Phelps 10 days later.

  3. Jim Thank you for your insight. Always nice to get your insight and perspective. Question is what was the objective of the alternate sight roster? Give those few players missed minor league training, observe potential help for MLB, Brogdon, Rosso, Romero. But MLB team went Veterans.
    40 man roster unclear on objective , apparently the have insight that we don’t see, Pitchers Hard throwers but have a history of not being able to throw strikes, or even go thru the lineup more than once, like this years BP.
    Watching WS it was clear Dodgers valued their youth, Tampa went with Vet and Youth just picked from trade deadlines. Yankees, Braves went Real Young. Maybe Phillies learned something and realize value in Pitching Development

    1. I don’t understand most of your text. I’ll answer the one question I can make out and take a stab at the other stuff.

      1.) The Phillies used the Alternate Site as a training site to make sure that they had players ready to step into roles on the major league club if there was an injury.

      They treated the site like it was Lehigh Valley. Among the transactions of players who spent time at the site – recalled: De Los Santos, Garlick, Romero, Irvin, Llovera, Brogdon, Cleavinger, Rosso, Medina, Moniak, Suarez, Sanchez; selected the contracts of: Howard, Parker, Brogdon, Bohm, Torreyes, Marchan; and activated: Quinn, McClain, Haseley, Suarez, Bruce, Morgan, Kingery, Garlick.

      2.) Girardi opted to use veterans. He grudgingly used the younger guys and quickly moved on after a bad inning. He was wrong in how he judged Brogdon when he sent him down. When Brogdon returned later out of necessity, he raked. Personally, I don’t think Girardi knows how to manage a bullpen that doesn’t include veterans and has Mariano Duncan closing.

      3.) The rest isn’t clear to me.I’m not sure if you were really asking me a question, looking for an answer. Or,you just wanted to answer it yourself.

  4. A good off season exercise in nostalgia is continuous Phillie player transactions. Let me give you an example. Phillies sign Dick Allen in 1960, trade him to Cards in 1969 for a group of players which one is Curt Flood. Flood refuses to show up so Montanez is the replacement trade asset. Phillies take Montanez in 1975 and trade him to Giants for Garry Maddux. Garry Lee retires from Phillies in 1986. So the continuum lasts for 27 years.

    Any other good ones?

    1. That’s nice work by you, Denny. Did you trace that continuum yourself or was there a source material? I ask because I’d like to look at it for other such transactions.

      1. Thanks.
        Just something that I have always thought about since being a kid in the mid-Sixties when I need to day dream, and baseball nostalgia is a hobby. Thought about connections with players and got this combo from memories. So there isn’t a site just keeping the old mind working.

          1. Not sure but my wife’s cousin was a teacher and knew him from Phoenixville Pa when he was in school. So 4 degrees to me. Lol.

          2. Here is another from Patrick Skrabel drafted in 1st round by Phillies in 1967 to Matt Klentak in 2020.

            – Skrabel drafted 1966
            – traded to Milw in 1971 for a Wayne Twitchell
            – Twitch traded to Expos in 1977 for Barry Foote
            – 1979 Foote traded to Cubs for Trillo
            – 1982 Trillo traded to Clev for Von Hayes
            – 1991 Hayes traded to Angel’s for Ruben Amaro Jr
            – Ruben retires in 1998 and takes over as Asst GM
            – 2009 takes over GM from Pat Gillick
            -2015 Klenrak takes over for Amaro
            – 2020 Klentak out

            54 years of a continuum.

            Players were part of groups traded but it is a continuum.

          3. Kevin Bacon’s movie debut was in Animal House starring John Belushi, who starred with Dan Aykroyd in The Blues Brothers. Aykroyd starred in Ghostbusters with Bill Murray who starred in Caddyshack with Chevy Chase who starred in Three Amigos with Steve Martin who starred in my all time favorite comedy Planes, Trains and Automobiles with John Candy, who starred in JFK with Kevin Bacon, who also made a cameo in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

    2. Denny…how about.
      1978…Phillies sign Julio Franco..traded with others to Indians for Von Hayes 1982
      1991-Von Hayes traded to Angels for Ruben Amaro
      1993- Amaro traded by the Phillies to the Indians for Heathcliff Slocumb.
      1996-heath Slocum traded by Phillies with Rick Holyfield and Larry Wimberly to Red Sox in exchange for Glenn Murray, Ken Ryan and Lee Tinsley
      …I gave up now.;)

      1. Very good.

        It went one more year. Ryan and Murray weren’t traded but Tinsley went for Scott Balcum and Balcum then wasn’t traded so end of continuum.

        Went 20 years.


          1. Last one for me tonight.

            Starting in 1953 which took the Phillies to their playoff runs starting 1976.

            – 1953 Turk Farrel signs with Phillies
            – 1961 Turk to LA Dodgers for Don Demeter
            – 1963 DD to Detroit for Jim Bunning
            – 1967 Bunning to Pitts for Don Money
            – 1972 Money to Milw for Ken Brett
            – 1973 Brett for Yes We Can Dave Cash
            – Cash with Phillies until after 1976 season when he signs as FA with Expos.

            So 24 years and thru the bottom of the Division to heartaches in nearly going to WS back to cellar and then to the Division Title.

            1. Thanks. I might look into it.

              I also like “Succession Planning” within one team at one position.


              1-Yankees- Catcher
              Starting in 1928 and ending in 1967. 39 years with 3 Catchers; Dickey-Berra-Howard.

              A 10 year old fan follows Dickey, his 10 year old son follows Berra and his 10 year old son is an Elston Howard fan.

              Red Sox 1939 to 1996 about 48 years with 4 LF’ers; Teddy Baseball, Yaz, Jim Rice and Mike Greenwell.

        1. Denny– got a good one for you :

          Del Ennis 1946- 1956 Phils
          1956 traded for Bobby Morgan + Rip Repulski – Cardinals
          1956 Morgan traded for Solly Hemus – Cardinals
          1958 Hemus traded for Gene Freese – Cardinals (again)
          1959 Freese traded for Johnny Callison – White Sox
          1969 Callison traded for Oscar Gamble + Dick Selma – Cubs
          1972 Oscar Gamble + Roger Freed traded for Del Unser – Mets (others too)
          1974 Unser traded for Tug McGraw – Mets
          1981 McGraw retires

          35 year continuum ! This was a fun exercise – thanks for the idea !!!

  5. Thanks Jim, for your hard work on preparing this fine piece of work for us and for all you do for that matter every day. It is appreciated.

  6. Wong and Hand both being released rather than having their previously thought reasonable option rates exercised are likely the first wave of a huge number of free agents. This will present a huge opportunity for the teams who are aggressive and can maybe structure deals with lower money in year 1. The Phillies?? I don’t see them being that kind of opportunistic team.

    1. If Yankees go after BJ LeMa….and re-sign Tanaka and go for a few more pitchers…then maybe they will pass on JTR.
      And if deBlasio is able to block the Cohen deal….or even delay it a month or so, or maybe it goes to ARod to the Mets, then JTR comes back to Philly…hopefully something the Phillies can live with.

        1. rocco… truly can be amazin’… nailed me….now if you can get the name of my doppelganger cut-out from CBP…that would be truly spectacular!

          1. Romus……….you ever notice how he disappears for periods of time then comes out with roller skating stories about fat girls? I think he’s a CIA operative.

  7. 2021 roster constructions are complicated by the expiration of the CBA in 2022 and nearly a universal acknowledgement that the next CBA will be quite different from it’s predecessor.. One big change is the number of years of control teams will have over young players before their free agents.. My guess it comes down from six to three or four. That will change how players are added to the 40-man roster or not..

  8. Great works as always Jim. I almost asked the type of question yesterday that this answered in thorough detail 🙂

    Content here is worth the price of admission 10 fold

  9. Fangraphs is estimating Springer’s’ contract to be 40 million less than JTs. I’d make that trade-off in a heartbeat. Sign Springer and a veteran defensive catcher and you will save enough money to sign these veteran relievers that are being dumped as well as having enough room to QO DiDi. (Not sure what happens with the draft picks in that scenario — we lose a 2nd rounder for signing Springer but gain a supplemental pick for losing JT?)

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