Phillies

Nobody's spending — will we ever see another MLB offseason like 2016?

Nobody's spending — will we ever see another MLB offseason like 2016?

It feels like a totally different era at this point, but just three MLB offseasons ago, 13 players signed new contracts worth at least $70 million.

This offseason, there has been one: Patrick Corbin. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will surely exceed $70M, and maybe Dallas Keuchel too, but that'll be it.

Most of those players three offseasons ago would not have found a comparable deal last offseason or this offseason. Have a look at this free-agent class leading into 2016:

• David Price: 7 years, $217M
• Zack Greinke: 6 years, $206.5M
• Jason Heyward: 8 years, $184M
• Chris Davis: 7 years, $161M
• Justin Upton: 6 years, $132.75M
• Johnny Cueto: 6 years, $130M
• Jordan Zimmermann: 5 years, $110M
• Jeff Samardzija: 5 years, $90M
• Wei-Yin Chen: 5 years, $80M
• Mike Leake: 5 years, $80M
• Yoenis Cespedes: 3 years, $75M
• Alex Gordon: 4 years, $72M
• Ian Kennedy: 5 years, $70M

That offseason is a good example (on top of many before it) of why teams have adjusted their spending philosophies. Of those 13 players, how many of the contracts were regrettable for the team?

I'd argue every single one except Price, and that's only because of how instrumental Price was in this past postseason's ALCS and World Series. Championships make it all worth it.

Every other player on that list has either been terribly disappointing (Davis, Heyward, Kennedy, Chen, Zimmermann, Gordon, Samardzija), mediocre, injured, or has been shopped because his team realizes it can't contend while paying that much money to one player. Greinke and Upton fall into that last category, with Upton already being dealt from the Tigers to the Angels and with the D-backs trying hard to move Greinke this offseason.

One of the interesting things about that offseason leading into 2016 is that four of the players who signed huge contracts were unsigned until late January. Davis, Upton, Chen and Cespedes all signed between Jan. 19 and Jan. 26. The obvious difference between this offseason and that one is that five players had already signed contracts of more than $100 million at that point.

The next year, the offseason heading into 2017, each of the top 10 free agents was signed by Jan. 10. 

Last year, the offseason heading into 2018, Jake Arrieta (March 12), J.D. Martinez (Feb. 26), Eric Hosmer (Feb. 19) and Yu Darvish (Feb. 13) were unsigned at this point. The long, long waiting game still paid off for each player, with a post-prime Arrieta getting $75 million over three years, Martinez getting $110 million over five years with early opt-outs to allow him to go make more after 2019 and/or 2020, and Hosmer receiving $144 million over eight years from the Padres. Darvish's deal was six years, $126 million.

It seems like the Hosmers of the world will no longer be sniffing $144 million. He was a somewhat unique case because he was 27 years old, coming off a career year with a championship on his resume. That player wasn't available in free agency this year — Harper and Machado don't count because they're in a completely different tier. Production-wise, Hosmer is closer to an A.J. Pollock or Michael Brantley.

If Hosmer was a free agent this year, would he get even half of that total value? It seems more likely nowadays he'd sign for $64 million or so.

Baseball is cyclical. Spending is cyclical. Front-office philosophies are cyclical. Right now, teams are obsessed with playing the "value" game — getting solid major-league production from young players in their pre-arbitration years or during the arbitration process. Teams have seen too many examples of players making at least $15 million per year producing the same as a 24-year-old making the minimum.

That sucks for the players, and it's frustrating for the fans who just want to see their team spend and win, but would you be approaching it differently if you were in a front office? If you were the GM, the assistant GM, or the person signing the checks? It makes business sense for these front offices. 

Fans don't pay to see GMs negotiate, they pay to see players play, so the frustration is completely justified. It just doesn't appear to be changing any time soon.

Unless ...

Unless teams begin realizing in a year or two that with so few of their competitors spending in free agency, an opportunity is being presented to add a lot of talent and separate yourself from the pack. If just one or two teams take that approach and win using that approach, maybe the cycle ends sooner rather than later.

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MLB 2020 schedule release: 5 key series to watch in Phillies' season

MLB 2020 schedule release: 5 key series to watch in Phillies' season

Every day seems to bring about a new set of questions or concerns relative to Major League Baseball’s attempt to pull off a season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. It is folly to think we know with certainty where any of this is going. But we do know a schedule was released for the 60-game season Monday night. Here’s a look at five key series from a Phillies perspective.

July 24-26 vs. Marlins

The Phillies were originally slated to start their season in Miami with a series against the Marlins in late March. In the shortened season, the Phils will now host the Fish in the first 3-game set of the 60-game slate. This series will mark Joe Girardi’s debut as Phillies manager and will also be pivotal as the club looks to start on a positive note against an inferior opponent that has given them fits in recent years.

July 27-28 vs. Yankees

Any series against the Yankees is noteworthy. They are one of the signature brands in sports across the globe. The Bronx Bombers are also on the short list of top contenders to win the World Series thanks to the arrival of Gerritt Cole to be their ace. Oh yeah, this will also mark Girardi’s first series against the club he played for and managed for 10 seasons before parting ways after the 2017 season. Plenty of intrigue to go around there. The clubs will meet the following two nights at Yankee Stadium.

Aug. 18-19 at Red Sox

One of the joys of the game is seeing it played in its grand old cathedrals. The Phillies will not make their customary trip to Wrigley Field this season due to the regionalized nature of the reworked schedule. But they will visit Fenway Park for a pair of games. It might not feel the same if fans, as expected, are not in attendance. That being said, there’s something about that Green Monster in left that screams baseball goodness.

Aug. 25-27 at Nationals

No fans means no boo birds for Bryce Harper when he returns to his old D.C. stomping grounds again this season. But he will be returning to face a Nationals team that captured a World Series title in their first season without the one-time face of the franchise. The Nats have lost Anthony Rendon, but still sport arguably the best hitter in the National League in Juan Soto and a star-studded rotation. A playoff spot in the NL still goes through the Nationals.

Sept. 25-27 at Rays

Perhaps it’s fitting that in a season that will be devoid of ambiance unlike any in baseball history, the Philies will finish up their campaign at Tropicana Field for a 3-game series with the Rays. Imagine a playoff spot coming down to a ball hitting the catwalk. That would be an ending befitting 2020.

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MLB 2020 schedule release: What you need to know about 60-game season

MLB 2020 schedule release: What you need to know about 60-game season

Baseball is back. Three glorious words.

After months of unsuccessful negotiating with the players' association, MLB has imposed a 2020 season and the two sides have agreed on health and safety protocols. 

The new season will not, however, include a few of the rule changes you may have recently read about.

Here are all the details you need to know about baseball's shortened upcoming season. 

When does the MLB regular season start?

Opening Day will be July 23, with two games taking place -- Yankees vs. Nationals and Giants vs. Dodgers. The Phillies will begin play on July 24. MLB will attempt to cram 60 games into about 66 days. Players reported to camp on July 1 for Spring Training II.

How many games?

It will be a 60-game regular season. The league had proposed as few as 50 games and the players' association had proposed as many as 114. In the end, 60 was the number the league chose when it unilaterally implemented the 2020 season.

Given MLB's new coronavirus cases, the league's desire to play the postseason in October, and the length these negotiations took, a regular season much longer than 60 games was no longer feasible. But the players still rejected the league's 60-game proposal for a few important reasons.

Where is the Phillies' schedule?

The schedule was released on July 6, and the Phillies will open up at home July 24 against the Miami Marlins. They will play teams from the National League East and American League East during the shortened season. Each team will play 40 games against their own division and 20 games against their geographic counterparts in the other league.

MORE: 5 key series to watch for Phillies in 2020

Here is the full 2020 Phillies schedule, all times Eastern:

July

  • July 24 – Miami, 7:05
  • July 25 – Miami, 4:05
  • July 26 – Miami, 1:05
  • July 27 – New York Yankees, 7:05
  • July 28 – New York Yankees, 6:05
  • July 29 – at New York Yankees, 7:05
  • July 30 – at New York Yankees, 7:05
  • July 31 – at Toronto, 6:37 

August

  • August 1 – at Toronto, 6:37
  • August 2 – at Toronto, 3:07
  • August 4 – at Miami, 7:10
  • August 5 – at Miami, 7:10
  • August 6 – at Miami, 7:10
  • August 7 – Atlanta, 7:05
  • August 8 – Atlanta, 6:05
  • August 9 – Atlanta, 1:05
  • August 10 – Atlanta, 6:05
  • August 11 – Baltimore, 7:05
  • August 12 – Baltimore, 7:05
  • August 13 – Baltimore, 4:05
  • August 14 – New York Mets, 7:05
  • August 15 – New York Mets, 6:05
  • August 16 – New York Mets, 1:05
  • August 18 – at Boston, 7:30
  • August 19 – at Boston, 7:30
  • August 21 – at Atlanta, 7:10
  • August 22 – at Atlanta, 7:10
  • August 23 – at Atlanta, 7:08
  • August 25 – at Washington, 6:05
  • August 26 – at Washington, 6:05
  • August 27 – at Washington, 7:15
  • August 28 – Atlanta, 7:05
  • August 29 – Atlanta, 1:15
  • August 30 – Atlanta, 7:08
  • August 31 – Washington, 7:05
  •  September 1 – Washington, 7:05

September

  • September 2 – Washington, 7:05
  • September 3 – Washington, 4:05
  • September 4 – at New York Mets, 7:10
  • September 5 – at New York Mets, 7:10
  • September 6 – at New York Mets, 1:10
  • September 7 – at New York Mets, 1:10
  • September 8 – Boston, 7:05
  • September 9 – Boston, 4:05
  • September 10 – at Miami, 6:40
  • September 11 – at Miami, 7:10
  • September 12 – at Miami, 6:10
  • September 13 – at Miami, 1:10
  • September 15 – New York Mets, 7:05
  • September 16 – New York Mets, 7:05
  • September 17 – New York Mets, 7:05
  • September 18 – Toronto, 7:05
  • September 19 – Toronto, 6:05
  • September 20 – Toronto, tba
  • September 21 – at Washington, 6:05
  • September 22 – at Washington, 6:05
  • September 23 – at Washington, 6:05
  • September 25 – at Tampa Bay, 6:40
  • September 26 – at Tampa Bay, 6:40
  • September 27 – at Tampa Bay, 3:10

Will fans be allowed at MLB games? Where will games be played?

While games will be played in home ballparks, fans will not be permitted in the stands for the 2020 MLB season. The Phillies' entire schedule will be televised on NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Philadelphia+, and NBC10, aside from exclusive national games.

What's the deal with Spring Training II?

For the Phillies, it takes place in Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park and across the street at FDR Park. There will be a three-week period for intrasquad games and baseball activities. Pitchers need to rebuild stamina and hitters need to find their timing against live pitching.

What about the MLB playoff format?

The playoffs will not expand from 10 teams to 16 for the 2020 season. The expanded playoff field was a piece of previous proposals but is not part of the 2020 season the league is implementing.

This means the playoff field will remain the same as it did in 2019 — three division-winners and two wild-cards per league.

How much will players get paid?

Players will get their full prorated salaries for the 60-game regular season. A 60-game season is 37% of a normal 162-game season. A player making just over $25 million per year like Bryce Harper would make about $9.4 million. A player making $10 million like J.T. Realmuto would make $3.7 million.

Remember, too, that the league advanced the players $170 million as part of the March 26 agreement. It means that some players have already been paid the bulk of what they will be paid in 2020. Here is a breakdown of how that $170 million was distributed.

How large will expanded rosters be?

Rosters will expand to 30 active players to begin the season. That number drops to 28 after two weeks and to 26 after four weeks.

More players will be available via the taxi squad. Key Phillies minor-leaguers like Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm are expected to be with the big-league team. Without a minor-league season, young prospects will need somewhere to develop.

And the DH?

The designated hitter will be universal in 2020 as an added protective measure to help prevent pitcher injury. But the DH will not be universal in 2021, the final year of the current collective bargaining agreement. Beyond that CBA, we could see the DH stick for good.

Any other quirks?

An August 31 trade deadline. Runners placed on second base in extra innings to prevent marathon games. Probably some others, too. Keep checking back.

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