Analysis

How much money do the Phillies have to spend this winter?


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.

Club Options

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

Neshek was sidelined for most of 2019 with a hamstring injury, and the Phillies will not bring the 39-year-old back at that price tag. Declining the option includes a $750,000 buyout.

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.

Player Options

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.

J.T. Realmuto had an impressive first season with the Phillies.( Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

Arbitration

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.

David Robertson could miss the entire 2020 season. (Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Guaranteed contracts

The Phillies have eight guaranteed contracts in 2019 that total $90 million. They are as follows:

Pitching

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.

Infield

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.

Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper are both entering their second seasons with the Phillies. (Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

Outfield

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?

J.T. Realmuto had a big first season in Philadelphia. (Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire)

Offseason Needs

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.

Starting pitching

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.

Third Base/Shortstop

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.

Bullpen

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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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Tom Franek

    November 6, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    Hernandez should be traded along with Franco. What about a package along with
    a starter Piveta or the like .
    We need a 3rd baseman. Not sold on Sagoral
    at short.Does he have enough arm from 3rd
    Perhaps Joe can motivat him.
    We will grow as a team with Girardi.

  2. Steven P.Winkler

    November 6, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    I would buy low on Didi to play SS til Stott is Ready in 2021, play Segura @ 3b til June/July when Bohm’er should be ready, and play Scotty
    Everyday @ 2b and watch him Flourish. Rhys at 1st with more days off under Joe G…

  3. Frank

    November 7, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    You are not going to get much with moving Franco now especially when Kapler destroyed his value plus we still need a 3rd baseman. You are better off keeping him at 3rd until Bohm is ready hopefully by mid-season or start of next year. Plus he may up his value in the process. That would make the most sense. As far as SS goes i’d try to move Segura who’s value is still decent and I would put kingery at SS. Hernandez at 2nd for one more year until Stott is ready hopefully start of next year. At that time you move kingery back to 2nd and Stott at SS. Now for the big move this year you have to dig deep and get Gerrit Cole. With Cole at the top of our rotation the rest should fit in nicely. I see a definite playoff run.

  4. Pingback: MLB free agency rumors: Phillies interested in veteran slugger Josh Donaldson | www.phillysports.com

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