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).
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!