It is that time of year when everyone becomes a general manager (or president of baseball operations) and begins recommending or endorsing roster moves to prepare for the next season. This annual exercise includes guessing how many and which free agents will be pursued and how much money is available to sign them. This will be pinned on the site for a couple weeks.
The sections below will break down how I arrived at how much money the Phillies have available below the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) threshold and what type of players they might target during free agency.
Until then, here is the consolidation of those figures
- 2023 CBT threshold ……………………………. $232,000,000 (for 40 players)
- Sunk Costs: $ 20,416,667 (includes 14 of the 40-man spots)
- Guarantees: $115,834,615 (6 contracts to lock up 5 players)
- Options: $ 11,350,000 (1 yes/2 no of three)
- Arbitration: $ 23,100,000 (6 of 7 tendered)
- Pre-Arb: $ 7,200,000 (10 at league minimum)
- Total Costs: $177,901,282
- Available Under the CBT threshold ………. $54,098,718
The Phillies, who aren’t likely to shy away from paying the Luxury Tax penalty for players they think will improve their chance at a world series trophy, will probably look to sign a shortstop and 3 pitchers, one a starter. They will also likely consider adding some upgrades via trades.
In the coming days, decisions by players and the organization will determine which vacancies will need to be filled on the active roster, the 40-man roster, and the upper minors.
These are the costs the organization incurs that are not directly related to player acquisition and payroll. They are predictable and recurring.
The Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) threshold sets the maximum that a team can spend before penalties are levied, the Luxury Tax. The amount is agreed upon by the players and owners as part of the (CBA). For the 2023 season, the CBT limit is $232,000,000.
The Phillies, and all teams, will have expenditures that do not have specific players attached to them. These costs do not count against salary but do count against the CBT threshold. These will effectively lower the dollars available to sign players.
The first is the team’s portion of player benefits. This is determined by dividing the total payroll throughout the major leagues and dividing by thirty (the number of franchises). This figure goes up each year. Each team’s estimated contribution for the 2023 season is $16,500,000.
The second is the estimate for the minor league players on the 40-man roster. That’s 14 players. The estimate for the 2023 season is $2,250,000.
The newest is the team’s contribution to the “zero-to-three-year” bonus pool. The Phillies’ (and each team’s) share amounts to $1,666,667.
So, that’s an estimate of $20,416,667 that counts against the CBT threshold and doesn’t add a player to the active roster. That bite out of the CBT threshold leaves $211,583,333 under the threshold to fill 26 active roster spots.
The Phillies go into the offseason with six players having guaranteed contracts for the 2023 season.
- Bryce Harper enters the 5th year of a 13-year contract ($330M (19-31)). It’ll be his age 30 season. 2023 salary is $27,538,462. Luxury Tax salary is $25,384,615.
- Zack Wheeler enters the 4th year of a 5-year contract ($118M (20-24)). It’ll be his age 33 season. 2023 salary is $24,500,000. Luxury Tax salary is $23.6M.
- JT Realmuto enters the 3rd year of a 5-year contract ($115.5M (21-25)). It’ll be his age 31 season. 2023 salary is $23,875,000. Luxury Tax salary is $23.1M.
- Nick Castellanos enters the 2nd year of a 5-year contract ($100M (22-26)). It’ll be his age 31 season. 2023 salary is $20,000,000. Luxury Tax salary is $20M.
- Kyle Schwarber enters the 2nd year of a 4-year contract ($79M (22-25)). It’ll be his age 30 season. 2023 salary is $20,000,000. Luxury Tax salary is $19.75M.
- Scott Kingery enters the 6th year of a 6-year contract ($24M (18-23)+24-26 opts)). It’ll be his age 29 season. 2023 salary is $8,250,000. Luxury Tax salary is $4M.
These six contracts account for a total salary of $124,163,462 but only $115,834,615 counts against the CBT threshold. Unless Kingery’s status changes, these six contracts count as five players against the 40-man roster.
The contracts and costs stated above leave the Phillies $95,748,718 under the CBT threshold to fill 21 active roster spots.
The Phillies have three players with options for the 2023 season – Aaron Nola, Jean Segura, and Zach Eflin.
- Aaron Nola has a club option for $16,000,000 with a $4.25M buyout. It is his age 30 season. 2023 salary would be $16,000,000. Luxury Tax salary would be $11.35M.
- Jean Segura has a club option for $17,000,000 with a $1M buyout. It is his age 33 season. 2023 salary would be $17,000,000. Luxury Tax salary would be $14.333M.
- Zach Eflin has a mutual option for $15,000,000 with a $150K buyout. It is his age 29 season. 2023 salary would be $15, 000,000. Luxury Tax salary would be $10.275M.
It’s anybody’s guess what the Phillies will do, but barring an extension, it’s safe to assume that the Phillies pick up their club option on Nola. And, while I would at least consider picking up Segura’s option (he was their second-best hitter when I started this), I expect the Phillies to decline it. And, unless the Phillies expect Eflin to be able to pitch as a starter for a full season, I think they will decline to pick up his option. Now, it’s possible they offer less money either as a starter/reliever, but I would think Eflin would rather test free agency in a starter-only role.
The buyouts for Segura and Eflin amount to $1,150,000 but I’ve noticed the past couple of years that when the buyouts are paid determines which season (and maybe even if) they are counted. The Phillies would benefit from having them count against 2022 since they are already over the threshold. Paying them against 2023 makes it a little more difficult to avoid the penalty for going over the threshold for two consecutive years (if that even matters to them).
So assuming that only Nola’s option is exercised and that the buyouts don’t count against 2023, that means that $11,350,000 will count against the CBT threshold and leaves the Phillies with $84,398,718 under the threshold to fill 20 active roster spots.
I’ll discuss long-term contracts (LTC) and extension possibilities later.
Arbitration Eligible Players
The Phillies have 7 players who are arbitration eligible. Two are facing their third and final year of arbitration, one is facing his third year of four, three are entering arbitration for the first time, and one is entering arbitration as a super-two. Official service time figures are in parentheses. MLBTR projected salary estimates are included.
- Rhys Hoskins (5.053) had a 2022 salary of $7,700,000 and enters his final year of arbitration, going into his age 30 season. Arbitration estimate $12,600,000.
- Jose Alvarado (5.082) had a 2022 salary of $1,900,000 and enters his final year of arbitration, going into his age 28 season. Arbitration estimate $3,200,000.
- Seranthony Dominguez (4.131) had a 2022 salary of $727,500 and enters his third of four arb years, going into his age 28 season. Arbitration estimate $2,000,000.
- Ranger Suarez (3.112) had a 2022 salary of $730,000 and enters his first of three arbitration years, going into his age 27 season. Arbitration estimate $3,500,000.
- Sam Coonrod (3.078) had a 2022 salary of $717,500 and enters his first of three arbitration years, going into his age 30 season. Arbitration estimate $800,000.
- Yairo Munoz (3.003) had a salary of at least $700,000 and enters his first of three arbitration years, going into his age 28 season. Arbitration estimate $1,000,000.
- Edmundo Sosa (2.140) had a salary of $715,600 and enters his first of four arbitration years, going into his age 27 season. Arbitration estimate $1,000,000.
Hoskins will likely receive an offer over eight figures. His agent is Boras who will likely submit a higher request. But, too high and the arbiter will surely choose the Phillies’ lower, fair submission. Alvarado, Dominguez, and Suarez will certainly be tendered offers. Coonrod would probably accept any number just to be tendered. His projected arb salary is not that much higher league minimum. He has a big arm, the Phillies like big arms. He’ll likely be retained one way or the other. One of Munoz and Sosa is made redundant by the other and Maton. Sosa sounds like Dombrowski’s Plan X if he doesn’t get his shortstop this winter. Munoz is likely the odd man out and non-tendered.
That’s $23,100,000 if they sign these six probables at the estimates above. That would leave an estimated $61,298,718 under the CBT threshold to fill 14 active roster spots.
(Note that these guys don’t all have to remain on the active roster, they can be optioned.)
Pre-Arbitration, Cost-Controlled Players
The minimum salary in 2022 was $700,000. The Phillies had agreements with most of their pre-arbitration players for slightly more than that amount. The minimum salary in 2023 is $720,000. The pre-arbitration players on the active roster will receive that amount or a little above depending on how the Phillies calculate their raises.
A good portion of the remaining fourteen spots on the active roster will be filled with these affordable, cost-controlled, pre-arbitration players.
It seems reasonable to expect that as many as ten pre-arbitration players could be tendered and placed on the active roster. That would be a minimum of $7,200,000 against the CBT threshold. That leaves the Phillies with $54,098,718 under the threshold to fill 4 active roster spots.
Free Agent Targets
At this point, the Phillies still have 4 spots to fill on the active roster. These openings are likely filled by free agents. The targets most likely sought through free agency are a shortstop, a leadoff hitter, a mid-rotation or better starting pitcher, a closer, and another back-end reliever.
I am all but certain that the Phillies will sign a free-agent shortstop. Kris Bryant was their white whale last season. When he signed with Colorado, I believe the Phillies quickly signing Schwarber and Castellanos was a knee-jerk reaction. I refuse to believe that they went into the offseason intent on signing two free agent outfielders who were awful defensively. I think their target this year is Trea Turner and that they will full-court press him and his agent and do everything to sign him. I think Plan B could be a shortstop from within and a pivot to LHP Carlos Rodon to bolster the rotation.
Actually, I don’t think a Turner signing rules out a signing of Rodon. That leaves 2 relief pitchers. The available top closers (by saves) are Edward Diaz, Kenley Jansen, Craig Kimbrel, and Taylor Rogers. Other available top relievers include Anthony Bass, Adam Ottavino, Robert Suarez, Rafael Montero, Matt Wisler, Michael Givens, Trevor Williams, Corey Knebel, Matt Moore, Andrew Chafin. I’m sure Phillies’fans won’t care how well Robertson and Hand placed on some lists.
So, since money is not a deterrent, let’s go get Turner, Rodon, Diaz, and Moore. That’s easily over a half-billion in salary, but it’s not our money. Haha.
Realistically, let’s assume that if they sign Turner, they seek a pitcher who would fall between Nola and Eflin talent-wise. Those might include Sonny Gray, Luis Severino, Johnny Cueto, Drew Smyly, Chris Bassitt, Zack Grenke, Taijuan Walker, Nathan Eovaldi, Noah Syndergaard, Zach Eflin, Jameson Taillon, Rich Hill, Zach Davies, and Carlos Carrasco. One of these guys should complement our rotation well.
There are a lot of relievers available. I hope they bring in a couple who can throw strikes and avoid walking batters. Guys like Edwin Diaz, Anthony Bass, Adam Ottavino, Rafael Montero, Matt Wisler, Erasmo Ramirez, Trevor Williams, Seth Lugo, David Price, and Andrew Chafin would fit the bill.
The Phillies don’t have to rely on free agency to fill out their active roster or to upgrade other positions. Their number one trade chip on the active roster is probably Alec Bohm because of his youth, team control, and up-and-coming bat.
I think the Phillies will try to trade Nick Castellanos this winter. I admit that my feelings toward Castellanos softened during the playoffs. But, when your $330M teammate can go to Triple-A on a rehab assignment and you won’t, well that just doesn’t sit right with me. The Phillies will have to eat a lot of his salary and maybe toss in a sweetener to keep the dollars down. But, I would make that a priority.
The Phillies have several younger players who may be attractive to other teams. Players who the Phillies might like to DFA but would hope to trade rather than risk losing to waivers.
Rule 5 Candidates
The Phillies have a couple players whom they will want to protect from the Rule 5 Draft. They will weigh this need against the need to have 40-man roster spots available during the regular season. The Phillies “wasted” a couple spots on players who were not going to help the team during the season, and might not ever help.
The Phillies have quite a few players who were eligible last year and will have another three dozen players eligible this year. Prominent names to be considered include – Erik Miller, Andrew Schultz, Johan Rojas. Players who are eligible for a second time and who might also be considered might include – Michael Plassmeyer.
I wrote a more extensive article on Rule 5 players in the organization here – https://phuturephillies.com/2022/10/15/phillies-rule-5-class-2022/
Free Agents (Outgoing)
The Phillies have 5 players entering free agency at the end of the season. They are – Noah Syndergaard, Corey Knebel, Kyle Gibson, Brad Hand, and David Robertson. The salary saved here is unimportant. The sections above show what the Phillies are spending as the roster is filled out.
If you insist on calculating saved salary by departing contracts, don’t forget that the Phillies had to pay full-season salaries to Jeurys Familia (less the pro-rated minimum salary since he was picked up by Boston), Didi Gregorius, and Odubel Herrera after releasing them. Plus, Jean Segura and Zach Eflin will become free agents when their options are not picked up. And, Johan Camargo has already declared free agency.
The total of the Phillies’ portion of all these contracts is about $75,529,369. This is quite a bit more than the actual estimated amount available under the threshold of $54,098,718.
I wrote a more extensive article on ALL free agents in the organization here –
Long-Term Contracts (LTC)
My guess is that they would like to extend Hoskins now, buying out his last arb-year, and Nola next year before his option runs out.
I’ve seen all the opinions that the Phillies should trade Hoskins. It’s a suggestion I made a few years ago, so I’m not averse to such a move. But, the first basemen hitting free agency this year are not an attractive lot. Those who could duplicate Hoskins’ production have to opt-out of current contracts and would cost much more than Hoskin’s arb year or they are not very good at all. So I see three options. Extend Hoskins. Pay a premium for a big-name free agent. Promote from within.
I wrote a more extensive article on this subject here –
In any case, I expect Boras to be difficult and no LTC. Pivot to Nola and start his extension after the completion of his option year to keep the AAV down this year. Actually, there’s no reason not to extend Nola this year if the extension starts at the conclusion of his current contract. And, I guess you have to trade Hoskins before the deadline unless you think you can attach a QO to him and don’t care whether he accepts or declines.
Including players on the 60-Day Injured List, the Phillies have 47 players on their 40-man roster. They’ll have to make room for the guys they protect from the Rule 5 Draft. And later, any free agent acquisitions will force more players off the 40-man roster. Expect these moves to start after the world series ends.
This year’s qualifying offer (QO) is $19,650,000. The Phillies have no players whom they would have to consider offering a QO this offseason.
However, signing a free agent with a QO attached to him would cost the Phillies draft picks and international bonus money.
Teams that surpass the CBT threshold ($230,000,000 this year) are subject to the heftiest penalties. The Phillies were one of six teams that went over the threshold. The others were Boston, the Dodgers, both New York teams, and San Diego.
In addition to paying a CBT tax, a team signing a free agent with a QO attached would forfeit its second-highest and fifth-highest picks in the 2023 draft. The team will also have its international signing bonus pool reduced by $1MM.
If one of these teams were to sign a second free agent with a QO attached, it will forfeit the next highest available draft picks – in this example, its third and sixth-highest picks.
Other Random Facts
In addition to the free agents above, I would like to acquire a real, glove-first, right-handed hitting centerfielder to platoon with or backup Brandon Marsh. I am not comfortable with our current backup CF options. Johan Rojas would be perfect in this role. I hope he continues to hit in Arizona so that the Phillies can consider this strategy. He should also be able to play the corners to give those guys a break, too.
The Phillies are rumored to have paid minor league players a larger salary than required (or agreed to) for staying on the IL or just being in the minors this season. (I saw this on social media from a reliable reporter, but can’t remember the particulars or all the players mentioned. Some of you may have seen it.) Depending on the accuracy of the report, how widespread the practice is, and if it continues could alter the amount of salary and AAV in a way that the public (that’s us) will not know.
A Few Upcoming Important Dates
- November 6: Trading resumes, the day after the World Series ends
- November 10: Deadline to make offers to eligible former players who became FA
- November 20: Deadline for free agents to accept qualifying offers
- November 18 or 21: Deadline to submit 40-man rosters before Rule 5 Draft
- December 1: Deadline to offer 2023 contracts to controlled players on the 40
- December 9: Rule 5 Draft
And, so it begins …
11/06/2022 – RHP Corey Knebel elected free agency
11/06/2022 – RHP Noah Syndergaard elected free agency
11/06/2022 – RHP David Robertson elected free agency
11/06/2022 – RHP Kyle Gibson elected free agency
11/06/2022 – LHP Brad Hand elected free agency