Teams who finish with 89 losses tend to have many holes to fill and the Phillies need lots of shovels and dirt. They filled two needs by signing Marlon Byrd and Carlos Ruiz, but still need to look to free agency for at least two starting pitchers and bullpen help. So, how much do they have left to spend?
To answer that question, we begin with the guaranteed contracts. If we include Carlos Ruiz's still unofficial 3 year/$26 million deal and assume he earns $8 million in 2014, the Phillies have $138.5 million in salary obligations for ten players, roughly $135 million of which counts towards the luxury tax. That luxury tax threshold is based on the average annual value (AAV) of each contract, which is calculated by dividing the total guaranteed money by the number of years.
Cole Hamels' contract, for example, earns him $138 million over 5 years, but it also includes a $6 million buyout in the sixth year, guaranteeing him a minimum of $144 million over 6 years and an AAV of $24 million. Even though Hamels will only make $22.5 million in 2014, it counts as $24 million towards the luxury tax. On the flip side, Rollins will make $11 million in 2014, but he has a $9.5 million AAV because it is a four-year, $38 million deal.
Included in both the actual 2014 payroll and the luxury tax number is roughly $10 million in player benefits.
Where we stand with their current salary obligations is a 2014 payroll of $148.5 million. Their payroll for the last two seasons was over $170 million, so if they remain at that level in 2014, they have about $21.5 million to spend. With a luxury tax figure of $145 million, it leaves them with a maximum of $44 million to spend before reaching the luxury tax.
That realistically leaves Amaro with between $21.5 million and $44 million to spend on the rest of the players. Still with me?
Next, we look at the five players eligible for arbitration.
Ben Revere and Antonio Bastardo are near locks. No need for any discussion on them.
Kyle Kendrick surprisingly is another near lock. Don't let his 4.70 ERA last season and a second half ERA of 6.91 fool you - Ruben Amaro wants him back. "I don't know why people are asking about that," Amaro told reporters. "We will [bring him back]."
I thought we were finally rid of John Mayberry and his evil twin Maybuggles, especially after signing Marlon Byrd, yet Ruben refuses to rid us of Maybuggles. "He's not an issue for me," Amaro said. "We haven't made any final decisions. But I'd view him as a tender."
Kevin Frandsen is a coin toss. I haven't heard any rumblings whatsoever about Frandsen. His intensity and versatility makes him a valuable asset, but the presence of Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez might render Frandsen's presence superfluous. I'm gonna say they keep him.
Determining the arbitration salaries requires a little guesswork, but MLB Trade Rumors has a pretty good salary projection system. Using that as a guide, here are my predicted salaries:
Kyle Kendrick - $7 million
Let's round it to $14 million, leaving the Phillies with $7.5 million in the available payroll fund and $30 million left under the luxury tax.
Let's look at our roster so far:
C - Carlos Ruiz
#1 - Cole Hamels
1 - Jonathan Papelbon
C - TBD
Quick disclaimer: This is a prediction of the likely Phillies roster and not what I would do. Trust me, there aint' no way Maybuggles or Kendrick would have guaranteed spots on my team.
You might have noticed that I left Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez off the list and the reason is simple: he is the only starter who can be assigned to the minors without clearing waivers first. International players with no major league experience are treated like any American prospect and teams have options on them for at least three seasons. As such, the Phillies don't have to rely on Gonzalez and can use him as their sixth starter if they choose.
Now, let's see who we can add to the roster internally.
The Phillies aren't likely to use free agency for a backup catcher, so let's assume Erik Kratz fills that role at $500,000. The Phillies love Freddy Galvis' defense at shortstop and his versatility, so let's give him one of bench slots at $500,000. You also have to think Darin Ruf will find a place on the team, so we can add him at $500,000, as well.
The Phillies will probably use homegrown relievers for at least two spots in the bullpen. Jake Diekman will likely take one of them and let's give the other one to Justin De Fratus, although he can easily be replaced with BJ Rosenberg, Ethan Martin, or Mike Stutes. All that matters here is they will make $500,000 each.
Here's our updated roster:
C - Carlos Ruiz
#1 - Cole Hamels
1 - Jonathan Papelbon
C - Erik Kratz
These additions will add a total of $2.5 million in salary, bumping their total payroll to $165 million and their luxury tax number at $161.5. That leaves them with $5 million in payroll spending and and $27.5 million left under the luxury tax to fill the following positions:
2 Starting Pitchers
The bottom line is that the Phillies have between $5 million and $27.5 million left to spend this offseason.
That is your math lesson for the day, absolutely free of charge. With the baseline numbers established, we will later examine how to spend the remaining $5 - $27.5 million.
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