Phillies' 2019 payroll and how much they can realistically spend this offseason

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Phillies' 2019 payroll and how much they can realistically spend this offseason

You've been hearing for a while that the Phillies have plenty of money to spend this offseason on top stars if they so choose.

How much money do they have exactly?

Let's take a look at the 2019 payroll:

The guaranteed contracts

Jake Arrieta: $25M

Carlos Santana: $20.333M

Tommy Hunter: $9M

Pat Neshek: $7.75M

Odubel Herrera: $5.35M

Scott Kingery: $1.5M

This adds up to just a shade under $69 million.

First year of arbitration 

The following are arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason:

Aaron Nola
Vince Velasquez
Hector Neris
Aaron Altherr
Jerad Eickhoff
Adam Morgan
Pedro Florimon

• Morgan and Florimon will be easy to move on from. Neither provides a valuable enough skill to pay $1 million or so for. They're players who can be replaced cheaply by a younger lefty reliever and utilityman.

• Nola made $573,000 in 2018. The record for a first-year arbitration salary was the $10.85 million paid to Kris Bryant this season. It broke the previous record of $10 million for Ryan Howard.

Both Bryant and Howard won Rookie of the Year and MVP in their first two full seasons. So as accomplished as Nola is at this point, he probably won't make more than they did. Still, it will be a substantial raise for the Phillies' ace, and depending on how this offseason goes, we could see the Phils give Nola an extension that buys out his first couple years of free agency. If the Phils and Nola go that route, it could cost something in the vicinity of $75 million.

• Neris will be back after regaining his confidence and posting an insanely high strikeout rate in the second half.

• Velasquez should be back, too, although it may not be as a starting pitcher.

• Altherr and Eickhoff both had lost seasons. Eickhoff was injured for the majority of 2018 before impressing in one start at the end of September, while Altherr struggled pretty much all year.

Both could be worth bringing back as insurance. Altherr has the skill set of a fourth outfielder and it could just be that 2018 was a down year. 

Second and third year of arbitration

The Phillies' only two Arb 2 players are Maikel Franco and Luis Garcia, both of whom could be gone this offseason. 

Does it make sense to pay Garcia $2-2.5 million after a disappointing season, or is he replaceable?

Franco's case is very interesting. It would make no sense for the Phillies to non-tender a 26-year-old coming off his best full season. Franco hit .270/.314/.467 with 22 homers a year after hitting .230/.281/.409 with 24 homers. 

Even if Franco is not in the Phillies' future plans, it would make more sense to agree to a one-year deal first and then trade him. Same goes for Cesar Hernandez, the Phillies' only player going into his third arbitration year.

Pre-arbitration players

The following players are not yet eligible for arbitration and should thus make between $500,000 and $600,000.

Rhys Hoskins
Zach Eflin
Seranthony Dominguez
Nick Pivetta
Roman Quinn
Jorge Alfaro
Nick Williams
J.P. Crawford
Victor Arano
Edubray Ramos
Andrew Knapp
Dylan Cozens
Yacksel Rios

The total payroll (free agency aside)

If the Phillies do keep Franco and Hernandez, they will be at about $102 million. This takes into account the guaranteed contracts, the arbitration-eligible players and the pre-arb guys.

If the Phils trade both Hernandez and Franco, that number should decrease to $88-90 million.

The Phillies' highest-ever opening day payroll was $178 million in 2014. They may not get all the way back there this offseason — Andy MacPhail did bring up next winter's free-agent class at his end-of-year press conference — but if they do get very aggressive, there's about $70 million or so they could add to next year's payroll.

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Forgotten Phillies opening day starters of the last 30 years

Forgotten Phillies opening day starters of the last 30 years

Steve Carlton, Terry Mulholland, Curt Schilling, Roy Halladay. There are certain eras of Phillies baseball over the last 40 years when you knew who was going to have the honor of being named opening day starter before spring training even started. This year, Aaron Nola was poised to take the ball for his third straight opening-day start. 

Since Carlton’s incredible run of starting 14 out of 15 openers, there have been 15 pitchers tabbed to start the season off for the Phillies but not all were household names. Here’s a look back at some of the pitchers you may have forgotten got the nod in Game 1 of 162.

2005-06: Jon Lieber

Lieber had a couple of pretty good seasons with the Cubs early in the 2000s, was an All-Star in ’01 when he won 20 games and started three straight Opening Days for them. But after having Tommy John surgery, he signed with the Yankees, missed all of ’03 and then bounced back with a solid 2004, good enough for the Phillies to sign him.

He won that '05 opener for the Phillies and had a pretty good campaign, winning 17 games and leading the NL in starts. He pitched another two unremarkable years for the Phils, going 12-17 with a 4.87 ERA.

2001/02: Omar Daal/Robert Person

Lumping these two together because it was a transition time for the Phillies. In the midst of their seventh straight sub-.500 finish, the Phillies traded ace Curt Schilling in July of 2000 to Arizona for four players, one of which was Daal. The lefty ended up losing 19 games in 2000, one game short of becoming the first pitcher in 20 years to lose 20. But that was good enough to earn (?) him the opening day start in 2001, the first with Larry Bowa as manager. Daal had a better year, going 13-7, but did have a 4.46 ERA.

Person also had a very solid season, going 15-7 with a 4.19 ERA. That got him the start in the 2002 opener, but he never found the same success on the mound as he did in ’01. At the plate, however, he had one of the more memorable days for a Phillies pitcher this century in a June game vs. Montreal. He hit a grand slam and a 3-run homer, going 3 for 4 with seven RBI.

2000: Andy Ashby

Ashby had come up in the Phillies system in the late '80s and actually made his MLB debut for the club in 1991. He was drafted by the Rockies in the expansion draft and ended up in San Diego, where he flourished. He was a two-time all-star, started a couple of openers and helped lead the Padres to the NL title in 1998.

When the Phillies traded three prospects for Ashby before 2000, they thought it gave them a legit 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation to go along with Schilling (who missed the beginning of 2000 due to injury). However, that didn’t work out. After going 4-7 with a 5.68 ERA, Ashby was traded during the All-Star break to the Braves for Bruce Chen.

1996: Sid Fernandez

Did you even remember Sid Fernandez was a Phillie? From 1994 through 1999, Schilling started five of six opening days for the Phils. When he started ’96 on the DL, in stepped Fernandez for the opening day honor. “El Sid” had some really good seasons with the vaunted Mets staff of the '80s, making a couple of All-Star games and helping them win a World Series.

Almost a decade later, he signed with the Phillies for the second half of the ’95 season and did well, posting a 3.34 ERA and going 6-1. He wasn’t as effective in ’96, which basically ended his career (he pitched one game for Houston the next season).

1990: Bruce Ruffin

Remembered more for his Chris Berman-given nickname, Bruce “Two Minutes For” Ruffin’s career started with a bang. He went 9-4 with a 2.46 ERA for the Phillies in 1986. But it kind of went downhill from there. Over the next five years with the club, he never finished above .500 and had only one year with an ERA below 4.00. But he got the opening day start in 1990 because someone had to. Partly because…

1989: Floyd Youmans

Maybe the original “new guy” that got the nod for the Phillies, Floyd Youmans had a promising start to his career in Montreal. He started the opener in ’87 at the age of 23, but injuries and a suspension derailed his time there. Before the 1989 season, the Phillies got him in a trade for Kevin Gross. Youmans started only 10 games for the Phillies in what was his final MLB season.

1987-1988: Shane Rawley

Rawley actually had a few good years with the Phils. He made the All-Star team in 1986 and won 17 games with a 3.54 ERA. In ’85, he won 13 with a 3.31. So when it came time to replace Carlton for Opening Day, the torch was passed to Rawley.

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What an opening weekend this would have been for Phillies

What an opening weekend this would have been for Phillies

"It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone." — A. Bartlett Giamatti

Of all the quotes about baseball I have read, the beginning of Bart Giamatti's essay "The Green Fields of the Mind" is the one that paints a picture (in oil, of course) of my connection to and love of baseball.

In three sentences we are taken from the renewal of spring to lazy summer afternoons and evenings at the ballpark and finally, to the ache of autumn as the game leaves us for the year.

This year, with fairly little warning, the heartbreak came early. Spring fever actually came with a ... real fever.

We had opening weekend on tap. The Phillies visiting the Miami Marlins. We would take the wraps off a revamped Phillies roster and get a feel for our new set of wheels this season.
What do we have? A team to be truly excited about? Not enough horses? Can Bryce Harper pick up where he left off? Will Jake Arrieta and Rhys Hoskins bounce back?

My watch signals game time.

My phone reminds me, too.

Do the watch and the phone know what they're doing to me?

If you've been a baseball fan since you were a kid, on opening weekend there is a sense of "school's out!" even though you've got two months left. What it is, really, is the promise of summer, laid out in 360 feet of basepath and three acres of the lushest Kentucky Bluegrass you've ever smelled.

As with this opening weekend, the weather is unpredictably tantalizing. Thursday gorgeous, Friday the same, Saturday wet, Sunday back in the drink.

All of that would have been OK. The Marlins play in a dome. The games would be played regardless of weather.

Would have been a good weekend to stay inside.

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