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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Phillies' Payroll

Originally posted on January 21; updated on January 22.

Here's an analysis that was done in the blogosphere before the 2009 season. (I've been looking for something more current, but I haven't been able to find anything yet).

Here are a few observations:

1. It's amazing how many players change teams from year to year. By my count, the Phillies will have 8 players on their opening-day roster who weren't with the team at the end of 2009. Forget about the beginning of 2009, just the end of it.

2. The list shows that the club has only 1 player signed beyond the 2011 season -- Chase Utley. Let's update that list for Roy Halladay and Placido Polanco, who have contracts that extend through 2013 (with perhaps another year) and 2012 respectively, Cole Hamels (whom the Philadelphia Inquirer reports in an article this morning is signed through 2012), and now Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino (yesterday the stories broke that the club was signing both through the 2012 season). Finally, the Phillies will have rights to J.A. Happ at least through the 2012 season. Four starters for 3 straight seasons -- that's great. What a difference a day makes! The Phillies now have a pretty solid nucleus of 7 players signed through the 2012 season.

3. This means, of course, that the Phillies have to do some longer-term planning to figure out whom to sign beyond the 2011 season. You have to figure at at 40, Raul Ibanez will be gone, and that Brad Lidge, at his price point and perhaps with continuing consistency issues, will be gone too. The Phillies are also talking a multi-year deal with Carlos Ruiz. It would be hard to see Ruiz getting more than a 2-year deal at this point, but I'm not an expert under baseball's collective bargaining agreement to understand, in Ruiz's case, what the team should or should not do.

4. In any event, the Phillies don't want a bare cupboard after the 2011 season. They'll have to make big decisions on Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth (as well as to re-evaluate their bullpen because the contracts of Lidge, Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero all will have expired). The Phillies did extend Rollins through 2011, but Werth's contract expires after this season. If he puts up similar numbers to last season's, he could command Jason Bay-like money in the off-season. Whether the Phillies decide to go long-term on Werth will depend on several factors, as follows: a) whether they think they he's worth signing to a five-year deal through his mid-30's; b) whether they think that he'll be able to hit righties enough to make it worth it over that long haul, c) what their views are on their payroll through, say, 2015 (that is, will it expand?) and d) how likely they believe they can sign Ryan Howard to a long-term deal. At the end of the day, they'll also have to groom young players, as this nucleus won't continue to perform at its current very high level when these players range in age from 35 through 37. That just doesn't happen.

5. The more you win the more you have the pleasant problem of trying to reward your outstanding players and keeping your payroll in check. Your players perform well and become more valuable, and other teams will come after them on the free-agent market. Your players know this, and most will want to take the best deal. So in the long term it's hard to fathom how the Phillies will be able to keep all of these players. And there's another variable.

6. How well will they age? The core group is between 29 and 32 years old. In 3 years, they'll be between 32 and 35. You probably don't want the oldest roster in baseball, so you might have to make some choices. Some, the players will make easy for you, because either their play will fall off or the money they command is well beyond what you want to pay (I foresee teams bidding for Ryan Howard after the 2011 season and offering him $100+ million for 5 seasons, which would be a risky deal for a player of his physical size, according to various items I've read in Baseball Prospectus.

All of this bears watching. As a Phillies' fan, it would be nice to see how management assesses the situation. Still, the signings of Blanton and Victorino are very positive developments, as was G.M. Ruben Amaro's pronouncement this morning that while he likes the roster he has, he's not satisfied, and that the Phillies are evaluating whether to sign another starter and another reliever. Also boding well for the Phillies was that the Mets failed to sign either Bengie Molina or Joel Pineiro. Finally, Joe Blanton's comments in this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer as to why he opted not to wait for free agency also could form part of a good sales pitch why the Phillies are a team a player would want to be on.


Anonymous PAYROLL said...

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4:36 AM  
Anonymous Payrolling information said...

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