On Monday, Oswalt and Lidge were let out of their options. Decisions on Rollins and Madson will be coming in the next couple of months. A Cole Hamels contract extension (he’s in his final arbitration eligible year after finishing out a three-year deal) seems imminent.
So, let’s get down to business. Here is a look at the payroll obligations for the Phillies in 2012, and what other players will likely receive. We’ll try and fill out the roster to see what it looks like next year.
Blue: money that the Phillies owe in 2012
Red: educated guess as to how much player will earn in 2012 (arbitration or otherwise)
-Roy Oswalt: $2MM
-Brad Lidge: $1.5MM
Estimated Total: $147.25 million (19 players, two buyouts)
Luxury Tax: $178 million (in 2011)
Give or take a player, the Phillies will have 19 players under contract heading into 2012 with a payroll of roughly $147 million, including the two buyouts. They’ll need six (or so) more players to fill out the roster with about $30 million to spend. (I say $30 million because it would be silly for the Phils to smash right up against the MLB Luxury tax; Ruben Amaro will want some wiggle room).
According to USA Today’s salary database, the Phillies spent a shade under $173 million in 2011. By the way, if the Luxury Tax continues to climb at its normal rate, it would go to about $186 million.* If so, the Phils could spend around $180MM.
*It has risen $8 million in each of the last five seasons.
The infield will have five players under contract at just over $45.8 million. Rollins is obviously a free agent. Wilson Valdez is arbitration eligible, but likely would not see a raise past $1 million. For a parallel, Alexi Casilla of the Twins was arb-eligible heading into 2011 with three years of service and re-signed for 1 year/$865,000. For what it’s worth, I do not think the Phillies will bring back Valdez, but that’s just a hunch. If they can find a player at a similar price that gives them slightly more and is younger, they’ll go in that direction.
It’s unknown whether or not they keep Michael Martinez or stash him in Triple-A after keeping him an entire year as a Rule 5 pickup. If he stays he’ll make slightly more than the minimum (roughly $425K, the same number David Herndon made after a year in the big leagues).
The Phillies need a backup catcher and to fill out their bench. They’ll need a guy who can play multiple positions, plus a starting shortstop.
The pitching staff is pretty much set. Unless they can find a taker for Joe Blanton’s albatross of a contract, he’s going to be the fourth starter, with Vance Worley likely again staying as the fifth. Kyle Kendrick will be a more expensive long-man/spot-starter, but as he proved this year, he was quite valuable as a starter and a bullpen piece.
The ‘pen is very much up in the air. Madson is the biggest question mark and will likely cost the Phillies $10-13 million per season on a three-year deal. Beyond Madson, there are four almost-definites in Contreras, Bastardo, Stutes, and Herndon, with Herndon being a bit of a wild card – although the Phillies have kept him around this long, you assume he’ll continue on with the club.
That leaves: starting shortstop, backup catcher, bench, closer, reliever, reliever.
Let’s say you sign Rollins and not Madson. Rollins could command somewhere in the $12 million range (we’ll go high end). That would leave roughly $18 million for two bench bats and three relief pitchers. Or, if they sway the other direction and keep Madson over Rollins at $12 million per season, it would be the same, except the Phillies would be looking for a different SS.
Could it be that the Phillies retain both Madson and Rollins at $12 million per year? Under the luxury tax constraints, and depending on how high the team wants to go, it could be possible. But is it the correct move, to keep two guys on the other side of 30?
If they choose to keep Rollins, here is how it could all shake out:
SS: Rollins, $12 million
BENCH: Backup catcher
RP: Schwimer/Savery/De Fratus
RP: LH Free Agent
RP: RH Closer
I’d like to assume the Phillies keep at least one of Schwimer, Savery or De Fratus. That would set the bullpen up to be very young and relatively inexperienced. If they don’t like that look, maybe all three stay in Triple-A and the Phillies sign a few veterans in the Lidge/ LaTroy Hawkins/Todd Coffey mold.
They absolutely need a lefty. That could be Savery or a guy like Mike Gonzalez. The lefty market is dry and filled with old washed-up veterans. Savery might be the guy here.
Backup catcher is a big-time need. Brian Schneider was the ultimate pro, but gave nothing at the plate. If the Phillies want to spend a little more, maybe they try for Ryan Doumit. Dioner Navarro could be an option.
If they go with Madson over Rollins, who do the Phillies go with at shortstop? Rafael Furcal is a pesky slap-hitter who may fit in well here, but is aging and has seen better days. He’d surely be cheaper than Rollins. However, the Cardinals hold a $12 million option on him and with such a critical position being so empty, St. Louis could choose to overpay Furcal for a year. Marco Scutaro is a name being thrown around that could fit with the Phillies, but he’ll be 36 and the Red Sox hold a team option on him for $6 million.
Whichever direction they go, I see at least $8 million per season being used on any closer, with the high end of $12 million. That would leave between $18 and $22 million for upgrades at other positions or to the bench.
Things can certainly change with the remaining players. Placido Polanco’s job seems far from safe. The Phillies could also opt for a Michael Cuddyer-type to play first base if Ryan Howard misses time and then switch to third if the Phillies feel he’s an upgrade over Polanco. Cuddyer could also play left field if the brass is concerned about Mayberry as an everyday player. However, Cuddyer is 33 and would cost them $7 million or more per year.
Would soon-to-be 34 year old Aramis Ramirez be the better buy?
It won’t be an easy offseason for Ruben Amaro Jr. There is clearly a lot to do, more to do then in previous years.
How do you fill out the empty roster spots with the money available?