Phillies

Pat Neshek sounds off on free agency issues: 'I think we signed a bad CBA'

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Pat Neshek sounds off on free agency issues: 'I think we signed a bad CBA'

Never shy about speaking his mind, Phillies reliever Pat Neshek sounded off Wednesday on the declining player salaries and glacial pace of MLB free agency, a new norm that no baseball player and few fans can get behind.

It's Feb. 13, the first official day of workouts for pitchers and catchers. And yet Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel and Craig Kimbrel — four of the top five free agents on the market — remain unsigned. 

So do Marwin Gonzalez, Gio Gonzalez, Carlos Gonzalez, Mike Moustakas, Adam Jones and Bud Norris, all useful players in their own right.

"It's sad to see. It stinks," Neshek told NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark. "They want to go cheaper, the front offices. I think we signed a bad CBA, personally."

That CBA went through ahead of the 2017 season and runs through the end of the 2021 season. 

The previous year, in the free-agent period leading into 2016, there were 13 players who signed contracts of at least $70 million. Revisiting those deals, 12 of them now look bad. You can see why front offices have become more risk-averse.

Spending is cyclical, but it just doesn't seem like the Jason Heywards of the world will ever again be finding contracts worth $184 million. Pitchers the caliber of Ian Kennedy will have trouble getting $70 million over five years.

It's frustrating for players to see salaries moving in reverse. A lot of this is caused by front-office groupthink around the league. 

"When the revenues are going up and the portion that's being paid to the players is consistently declining, there's going to be an issue," Neshek said. "It's going to get pretty ugly. The smart front offices, a lot of those guys might not have jobs anymore because we're not going to have baseball. It's a respect issue."

The other major factor in all of this is the sheer number of teams that would rather be frugal and try to luck their way into a playoff berth rather than spend themselves into realistic contention. 

The league-average 40-man roster payroll is $121 million. But there are a whopping 12 teams spending less than $100 million on their 40-man roster: the Rangers, Tigers, Twins, White Sox, Royals, Athletics, Orioles, Blue Jays, Padres, Marlins, Pirates and Rays. 

Those last six teams are spending less than $80 million.

There just aren't enough teams that care about winning in 2019. The supply of free agents capable of helping you win hasn't decreased. The demand sure has.

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Phillies fans, you're gonna love Didi Gregorius based on his Twitter personality

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Phillies fans, you're gonna love Didi Gregorius based on his Twitter personality

MLB free agency is in full swing and the newest addition to the Phillies, Didi Gregorius, has quite the personality on Twitter.

More specifically, he really enjoys tweeting after his team wins ... especially with emojis.

It almost feels like Groundhog Day scrolling through his feed. And by the looks of things, he rarely forgets.

Take a look:

Of course, these are only a few of the many he has tweeted out. If you have the time though, look at the rest — there are definitely some hidden gems.

Will he continue this tradition with his new club? Will we be able to see tweets from him stating that the bullpen was worth four fire emojis? What emojis will he assign for Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins and the rest of the team?

These are the hard-hitting questions we want answered right after the news of a signing breaks — but we'll just have to wait and see once Spring Training comes to a close in a few months.

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Phillies agree to deal with shortstop Didi Gregorius

Phillies agree to deal with shortstop Didi Gregorius

Updated: 6:28 p.m. 

The Phillies got their pitcher last week.

Now they have their infielder.

The club on Tuesday reached agreement with free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius, according to sources. The deal is for one year and $14 million, according to sources. The New York Post initially reported the agreement.

The signing likely concludes the Phillies' heavy lifting for the offseason. They signed right-handed pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million deal last week.

The Phils are still looking for some bullpen help and starting pitching depth, but those are expected to be low-profile additions. 

The Gregorius signing puts the Phils within about $6 million of baseball’s $208 million luxury-tax threshold. Phillies ownership has not ruled out going over the threshold and paying a 20 percent penalty on overages, but the decision to do so might not come until the 2020 season unfolds and the team sees where it is in the standings. General manager Matt Klentak on Monday said he expects the team to contend. The Phils have not made the playoffs or had a winning season since 2011.

Gregorius’ addition means Jean Segura will come off shortstop in 2020. He will likely play second base, though a move to third is not out of the question. Scott Kingery will likely fill the remaining spot with Adam Haseley getting a shot to win the center field job.

In Philadelphia, Gregorius will be reunited with Joe Girardi, his manager with the New York Yankees from 2015-2017. Girardi was hired by the Phillies in October.

Girardi does not hide his affection for Gregorius.

“He’s a treat to be around,” Girardi said last week. “He brings a smile every day and works extremely hard. He’s a very talented player. I think there’s 30 teams that would love Didi’s services. I’m a big fan.”

The Phillies’ need for infield help became acute after the team cut ties with second baseman Cesar Hernandez and third baseman Maikel Franco last week.

Gregorius, who made $11.75 million with the Yankees last season, turns 30 in February. He hit .277 with a .791 OPS and averaged 24 homers and 81 RBIs with the Yankees from 2016-2018. He played only a half-season as he recovered from elbow surgery in 2019. He hit just .238 but had 16 homers and 61 RBIs in 324 at-bats. By signing a one-year deal, Gregorius can rebuild his value and go back on the free-agent market next season. The Phils can attempt to retain him with a qualifying offer and would receive draft-pick compensation if he leaves.

Last week, Girardi was asked what Gregorius would bring to the Phillies.

“Left-handed bat, power, plays an outstanding shortstop,” Girardi said. “He can play second, as well. He’s a real character guy and he’s a real hard worker that is a really important clubhouse presence. I felt that he was important to the clubhouse in New York in what he brought every day. I’ve always been a big fan of Didi and what’s he’s been able to accomplish. You have to remember, I got him when he first came over and he was replacing a legend (Derek Jeter) and how difficult that was and to see the growth that he made was really pleasing to me.”

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