What Should the Phillies Do With Their Extra CBT Space?

MLB: JUL 01 Dodgers at Nationals
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 01: Washington Nationals left fielder Kyle Schwarber (12) looks into the stands during the Los Angeles Dodgers versus Washington Nationals MLB game at Nationals Park on July 1, 2021 in Washington, D.C.. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire)

With the Phillies and the rest of the MLB’s Spring Training and regular-season games being canceled left and right, not much in baseball is certain. One thing we know will happen is that the Competetive Balance Tax will rise by at least $18 million in 2022.

The last offer presented by MLB to the MLBPA raised the CBT from $210 million to $220 million.

When baseball does return, the Phillies will have at least $38 million to spend (that includes estimated arbitration deals according to Sportrac). That figure also includes possible $200,000 increases for the Phillies’ 15 pre-arbitration players.

With the players not happy with the $220 million CBT offer, we can presume that number will increase by at least another $5 million if not $10 million. So, for all intents and purposes, let’s say the CBT for 2022 will be $230 million. This would put the Phillies $48 million before they’d get into any luxury tax conversation.

This seems even more likely now that MLB has proposed a $228 million CBT in their latest negotiations.

So, what should they do with it?

Outfielders, please.

Currently, the Phillies have no one playing left field. Names like Adam Haseley and Mickey Moniak are on the roster, but the Phillies can’t afford to have another question mark in the lineup.

Matt Vierling currently tops the depth chart at both left field and centerfield. So to alleviate this, let’s fall into the rumors and say the Phillies sign Kyle Schwarber. Sportrac has Schwarber’s market value at $12.9 million, but that seems low.

After a monster 2020 season (1.067 OPS), Marcell Ozuna received a 4-year $65 million contract from the Braves. Let’s estimate Schwarber’s contract at 4-years $78 million ($18.5 mill towards the tax).

In the last 4 years (464 games), Schwarber has blasted 107 home runs. That 4-year average of an .851 OPS would plug in nicely in the middles of the Phillies’ lineup.

The Phillies should also sign a 4th outfielder. There are really no obvious options but Kevin Pillar is someone who could be a nice buy-low option. He’s never been a great offensive player but he can play centerfield. He’d only cost around $3 million although the Phillies might be better off with Haseley or Moniak.

After outfielders, the Phillies would then have $26.5 million to work with.

FIX THE BULLPEN

One does not simply have a great starting rotation just to let the bullpen blow the game.

The Phillies had a historically bad 2020 bullpen, posting the worst ERA since the (of course) 1930 Phillies. 2021 wasn’t much better. They had the 6th worst bullpen ERA in the majors at 4.60.

Before the lockout, Corey Knebel was signed to help beef up the bullpen (2.45 ERA in 2021) but the Phillies need more.

Mychal Givens was a name the Phillies were connected to before everything stopped. Last season, he posted a 3.35 ERA and a 9.5 K/9. He had a 3.63 ERA and a 10.1 K/9 in 2020. Let’s say he’d be given a 2-year $13 million contract. That’s another $6.5 million going towards the luxury tax.

Now, let’s go crazy and say the Phillies go full boar with copying the Dodger way and sign Kenley Jansen. Jansen has saved 350 games in his illustrious career with the Dodgers. There’s reason to doubt he can still be a great closer. In 2019, he posted a 3.71 ERA with 8 blown saves. He has rebounded recently to a tune of a 2.51 ERA over the past 2 seasons.

Entering his age 34 season, Jansen wouldn’t be cheap. Let’s put him down for 2-years $25 million, putting $12.5 mill towards the CBT.

The Phillies would have $7.5 million left to fill one last hole.

Who Wants to Be the DH?

Let’s say the Phillies would be willing to bring in a bat to play majority designated hitter for $5-6 million.

There are no slam dunks here. There’s the living legend Albert Pujols who could be enticed with playing with Bryce Harper. There’s Harper’s personal hype man Brad Miller. Mitch Moreland had a disappointing 2021 but was solid from 2018-2020. Dan Vogelbach is a less exciting option that could surprise. Jed Lowrie?

Any way you slice it, you’re throwing a dart at the board and hoping for a bullseye.

Ideally, I’d prefer the Phillies spend on an extra starter like Chris Archer but with the season pushed back, hopefully, Zach Eflin won’t miss a start recovering from injury. DH would seem to be a more pressing issue.

Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire

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