It’s time to roll out the offseason plans, where a few members of the PN writing team build their ideal 2014 Phillies Roster, taking into account team needs as well as payroll and luxury tax ramifications.
As the undisputed loser of last season’s offseason plans, the guys let me go first this year. Like last year, I have chosen to go in quite a different direction than most of my colleagues and I tried to stick to realistic moves to help keep the Phils within the luxury tax.
Crazy to sign two catchers? Maybe. Look, I’m not sold on Tommy Joseph being the long term answer at the catcher position and Cameron Rupp and Erik Kratz are fine back-ups but not the solution long-term.
What this move does is adds a really solid, young catcher (more opinion on Saltalamacchia here) who hits with power from the left side and a solid back-up from the right side (more opinion on Navarro here) who also has youth and experience on his side. $13 million to fill a catching spot is a lot but it is certainly a more sound investment than a Brian McCann-type signing (who I have some thoughts about here).
Strangely, I am willing to overpay for Navarro after Salty is signed to ensure this move works. The hope is that by the third or fourth year of Salty’s contract, Andrew Knapp or Gabriel Lino is ready to replace Navarro in this platoon.
Move #2: Sign Joe Smith (two years, $6 million)
Not to be confused with the former NBA #1 Overall Pick, the sidewinding-righty reliever adds depth to the Phillies bullpen. I love Smith’s ability to get batters out with ground balls and I think it will play well in the Majors’ easiest park to hit homers in.
Move #3: Sign Jacoby Ellsbury (six years, $108 million)
Ruben (or me, in this case) overbids and outbids everyone on the board, just about blowing through the luxury tax for an opportunity to win now. I love Ellsbury speed, power, and defense. I would also hang on to Ben Revere and play him in left, moving Domonic Brown to right. This was a cautious play in my Pass or Play series but I have come around to having Ellsbury long term.
Move #4: Sign Mike Morse (one year, $1 million + incentives, non-guaranteed contract)
I love Morse on a non-guaranteed deal but anticipate he will find a much better offer. If he’s available, play, play, play!
Commitments added:– Add Saltalamacchia at $10 mil per year (estimated 3.1 wins per Steamer)
– Add Navarro for $3 mil per year (0.8 wins)
– Add Smith for $3 mil per year (0.3 wins)
– Add Ellsbury for $18 mil per year (5.9 wins)
– Add Morse for $1 mil per year (0.0 wins)
And… The Resulting Roster
SP #1: Cole Hamels
SP #2: Cliff Lee
SP #3: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
SP #4: Jonathan Pettibone
SP #5: Adam Morgan
CP: Jonathan Papelbon
RP: Antonio Bastardo
RP: Justin De Fratus
RP: Jake Diekman
RP: Ethan Martin
RP: Kyle Kendrick
Other commitments: Mike Adams (one year, $6 million, one year)
Contracts added: $40.5 million, less about $1.5 in arb for Revere, less about $0.6 mil for Hernandez and Martin. Added $31.9 million in contracts for 2014 with an estimated upgrade of 10.2 wins, less the departed J.C. Ramirez (-0.7 fWAR in 2013) and Luis Garcia (-0.5 WAR) in bullpen, Kendrick in the rotation (1.7 WAR), and Carlos Ruiz (1.4) for about a net 7.9 win upgrade, not including the possible added value of a move of Ben Revere from center to left and Brown from left to right, which could net them an additional win or two if both remain healthy.
Roster notes: My most extreme prediction? Morgan beats out Kendrick for a rotation spot. Ideally, I would non-tender Kendrick, but Amaro has already said the Phillies will tender Kendrick a contract. I would opt to give Howard regular rest against lefties, using either Morse or Ruf at first base. And Saltalamacchia can play some first as well on days Howard needs rest against righties. I had initially considered Mark Trumbo as a trade candidate but his estimated $5 million in arbitration and cost in young, affordable players is something that I wished to avoid.
And, there are a few familiar names missing from my roster: Kevin Frandsen and John Mayberry are the most notable non-tenders from my list. With those two gone and Chooch and Doc not coming back, that empties four 40-man roster spots. I added six players to the 40-man, resulting in a net addition of two to my team, resulting in 37 men on the 40-man roster. In addition, I would designate Zach Collier, Luis Garcia, Joe Savery, and Sebastian Valle to trim the 40-man down to 33. From a previous list, I would add Aaron Altherr, Kelly Dugan, Anthony Hewitt, Tommy Joseph, Mike Nesseth, and Rob Rasmussen, to leave one roster spot for any additional free agent I may want to add during Spring Training.
My total commitments come out to $166.15 million, including all extra costs, leaving Phillies space to make a splash if one presents itself, perhaps a pipe-dream trade for Matt Kemp if the Dodgers decide they have too many outfielders but I am not counting on something like that happening.