Last offseason, the Phillies were aggressive both in the free-agent market and trade market in their attempt to build a postseason contender. They spent plenty, giving out nearly $500 million in guaranteed contracts. But injuries and underperformances kept them from making the playoffs in 2019, and they reportedly are expecting to have another “aggressive” offseason this year as they look to snap an eight-year postseason drought.
Here is how the payroll for 2020 breaks down heading into this vital offseason.
The Phillies have declined all three club options they had on players for 2020. They will pay $3 million in the buyouts of these contracts.
Jared Hughes – $3 million
Hughes pitched in a lot of games down the stretch for the Phillies, and even had some mild success with a 2.41 ERA for the season outside of one horrible outing. But, he still allowed seven home runs in only 23 innings, and the Phillies will not bring him back at that price tag. Declining the option includes a $250,000 buyout.
Pat Neshek – $7 million
Jason Vargas – $8 million
In 11 starts for the Phillies, Vargas had a 5.37 ERA and the team will not bring him back in 2019 – at least not for $8 million. Declining the option includes paying a $2 million buyout.
Jake Arrieta – $20 million
The Arrieta contract has not worked out well for the Phillies. He had an underwhelming 2018 season, and after pitching well in April this year, he fell apart in May and his season ended early in August due to bone spurs in his pitching elbow. Arrieta will be 34 in 2020, and RADIO.COM‘s Jon Heyman confirmed that Arrieta would pick up his option and avoid free agency.
Many of the decisions that the Phillies have to make are in arbitration. We outlined those decisions and how we think that they will play out here, and will take these predictions into consideration when looking at the overall payroll for the Phillies in 2020 (money amounts based on Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors‘ arbitration estimates).
Our predicted tendered contracts:
J.T. Realmuto – $10.3 million
Jose Alvarez – $3 million
Vince Velasquez – $3.9 million
Hector Neris – $4.7 million
Mike Morin – $1.2 million
Adam Morgan – $1.6 million
Zach Eflin – $3 million
Andrew Knapp – $800K
Based on how we think arbitration will play out, the Phillies have to pay approximately $28.5 million combined for these eight players. This would mean a non-tender for Cesar Hernandez, whose $11.8 million projection is just too high based on his production, and Maikel Franco, whose time in Philly is likely to come to an end.
The Phillies have eight guaranteed contracts in 2019 that total $90 million. They are as follows:
David Robertson – $11 million
The Phillies signed Robertson because of his ability to stay on the field and avoid injuries throughout his career. That has worked out horribly, and it is not likely that Robertson pitches at all in 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August. Robertson has a $12 million club option in 2021 that includes a $2 million buyout.
Aaron Nola – $8.5 million
Nola signed a 4 year, $45 million contract extension last offseason. The team’s ace is owed $12.25 million in 2021 and $15.5 million in 2022, with a $16 million team option in 2023.
Jean Segura – $14.85 million
The Phillies acquired Segura in the trade that sent Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford to Seattle. He was a mild disappointment both at the plate and in the field, and the expectation is that the team will move him to second or third base in the future. Segura is owed $14.85 million both in 2021 and 2022, with a $17 million team option in 2023.
Scott Kingery – $1.5 million
The Phillies made history prior to the 2018 season when they gave Kingery a contract extension prior to his major league debut. After struggling greatly in 2018, Kingery had a couple of really good stretches in 2019 that showed why he received that extension. It is unclear where he will play in 2020, but he is owed $4 million, $6 million, and $8 million respectively from 2021 to 2023. He has $13 million, $14 million and $15 million club options from 2024 to 2026.
Bryce Harper – $27.54 million
The Phillies gave Harper a 13-year, $330 million contract last offseason, making him the highest paid player currently on the roster. He is owed $27.54 yearly through 2028 and then $23.54 million from 2029-2031.
Andrew McCutchen – $17 million
Like Robertson, the Phillies signed McCutchen partly due to his ability to stay on the field, and like Robertson, McCutchen suffered a serious injury that sidelined him for a majority of the season. The 33-year-old is expected to return in 2021, but it remains to be seen how good he will be after suffering and recovering from a torn ACL. McCutchen is owed $20 million in 2021 and has a $15 million club option in 2022 with a $3 million buyout.
Odubel Herrera – $7.35 million
Herrera didn’t play after he was arrested in late May following a domestic incident between him and his girlfriend. He was suspended for the remainder of the season in July, but his punishment likely ends there. It is unclear what the Phillies intentions are with Herrera, but he is owed another $10.35 million in 2021, with club options of $11.5 million in 2022 and $12.5 million in 2023. They may move on from him, but for now, he remains a member of the roster.
Jay Bruce – $1.75 million
The Phillies acquired Bruce in June, and he was great at first prior to struggling to stay healthy down the stretch of the season. He will likely serve as the team’s fourth or fifth outfielder and a valuable power hitter off the bench before becoming a free agent after the 2020 season.
This leaves the team with eight roster spots to be filled. Based on league minimum salaries, that should be roughly $5 million, plus an addition $2 million to fill out the rest of the 40-man roster..
Combined, the Phillies should have roughly $146 million in the books for the 2020 season assuming they make the decision to non-tender Hernandez. Under luxury tax rules, however, the hit taken for each player is the annual average salary of his contract, which brings the number up to $151 million. This is due to players like Kingery’s ($4 million AAV) and Arrieta’s ($25 million AAV) that are making less in 2020 than the AAV of their contract. It is hard to account precisely for the cost of other miscellaneous costs, such as performance bonuses, but adding roughly $15 million can account for a rough estimate. This would bring the number up to $166 million heading into free agency this winter.
With a $208 million luxury tax threshold in 2020, the Phillies are left with roughly $42 million to spend this offseason. This is assuming they aren’t yet ready to go over the tax, which John Middleton recently indicated they wouldn’t do unless they felt confident they were putting together a World Series caliber roster. That money will allow the Phillies to fill several holes this offseason. So how exactly will these needs be addressed?
Extend J.T. Realmuto
The Phillies acquired Realmuto prior to 2019, and he had an excellent season, solidifying his place as the best catcher in baseball. Now, they need to lock him into a multi-year extension to guarantee that he doesn’t get to free agency after the 2020 season.
The Phillies’ biggest weakness in 2020 was clearly the rotation, and it will be addressed in the offseason. Beyond Nola, Arrieta, and Eflin, there are no clear candidates in the organization to be in a winning team’s rotation. Obvious targets include Houston’s Gerrit Cole, New York’s Zach Wheeler and Washington’s Stephen Strasburg, and there are a plethora of alternative options to fill the other two spots in the rotation.
Maikel Franco will likely be non-tendered this offseason, leaving the Phillies with no clear options at third base.
No. 1 prospect Alec Bohm is getting closer to being ready, but his defense is still a big question mark and it is unlikely he starts the 2020 season on the Phillies.
Kingery has played some third base, but he has looked far less comfortable there than any other position he has played. The scenario could arise where Segura moves to third, but his offensive profile fits much more as a second baseman or shortstop. In any case, moving him would open up a need at shortstop.
That likely leaves the Phillies looking outside of the organization for a third baseman and/or shortstop this offseason. Options at third include Atlanta’s Josh Donaldson, Milwaukee’s Mike Moustakas and Washington’s Anthony Rendon. Options at shortstop include Didi Gregorius and former Phillie Freddy Galvis.
The Phillies relied on a makeshift bullpen during the second half of 2019, and they will likely want to do better than relying on guys like Mike Morin and Jared Hughes in high-leverage situations in 2020. They will have to sign some relief pitching this offseason. Some options include Houston’s Will Harris, San Francisco’s Will Smith and Atlanta’s Chris Martin.
This is a critical offseason for Matt Klentak and the Phillies, and in order to win in 2020 and beyond, they simply must be willing to spend big money for the second winter in a row.
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