Massive spending was the hallmark of the Phillies’ offseason a year ago. En route to acquiring David Robertson, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, J.T Realmuto, and Bryce Harper, the team shelled out a whopping $403M.
No strangers to heavy offseason spending, the Phillies front office brass have rival executives under the assumption that a similarly pricey offseason is on the horizon in Philly.
Expectations of a financially extravagant winter for the Phils aren’t all that surprising, either. After all, the team begrudgingly missed out on the postseason for the eighth consecutive year in 2019- despite their lofty title expectations. Additionally, the team has already been linked to free-agent starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, who may be on the receiving end of one of the richest contracts in baseball history this offseason.
Unlike a year ago when the team possessed enough bankroll to seemingly sign whomever they wanted with little to no regard, the Phils aren’t exactly playing with a full deck this offseason. They already have $116M committed to nine players in 2020, and that’s prior to annual raises for their arbitration-eligible players. This figure is also excluding a (hopefully inevitable) J.T Realmuto extension.
With the luxury-tax threshold now set at $208M and the Phillies payroll expected to climb up by $25M to $40M following arbitration, the Phillies will have roughly $50M to work within free agency if they are to stay under the luxury tax. Though $50M is certainly nothing to scoff at, it’s not enough for the Phillies to go buck wild with either, and seems even slighter given the nature of the team’s needs.
As we know, the Phillies starting rotation is in desperate need of improvement. The unit posted a putrid 4.64 ERA in 2019 and boasted only one starter- Aaron Nola- that finished with 10+ wins and a sub-4.00 ERA.
On the bright side, there is no shortage of talented arms on the market. Premier pitchers Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Madison Bumgarner are all free-agents this winter. Additionally, hurlers Zach Wheeler, Cole Hamels, Dallas Keuchel, and Jake Odorizzi are available options that would all be upgrades from the Phillies’ cast of pitchers from a season ago.
On the downside, however, starting pitching isn’t cheap. Especially front-end starters, which is the variety of pitcher the Phils need the most. Considering the team is in need of at least two starting pitchers this offseason, the $50M the Phils have to play with quickly doesn’t seem nearly as exorbitant.
Enough to make improvements? Certainly, but I fear the team doesn’t have the capital to scratch everything off their lengthy wishlist without going over the luxury tax. Perhaps the front office will surprise with a few financially innovative maneuvers to bolster the roster.
One thing’s for sure though, the team will need to be wise with their limited resources this summer. Unfortunately, wise dealing will likely take them off the Gerrit Cole trail, but I’ll dive deeper into that in my article tomorrow.
This isn’t to say the Phillies have so few resources that they’ll be forced into a quiet offseason. Just that they likely won’t be able to set off as many fireworks as they did last winter.
It’ll be a key development to follow all offseason so be sure to stay tuned right here at Philly Sports Network as we keep you up to date with everything Phillies!
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports