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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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No more pain for Cesar Hernandez, an edge for Andrew Knapp, more from Phillies' first full-squad workout

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No more pain for Cesar Hernandez, an edge for Andrew Knapp, more from Phillies' first full-squad workout

CLEARWATER, Fla. — When it comes to the Phillies’ pursuit of you-know-who and you-know-who, Cesar Hernandez can’t help but be a little greedy.

“I don’t have a preference,” the veteran second baseman said. “Everyone knows that they’re really, really good players. If it’s one of them, it’s one of them. If we can get both of them, I’ll take both of them.”

The Phillies held their first full-squad workout on the fields at Carpenter Complex on Monday. Off the field, attention being paid to the team’s pursuit of free agents Manny Machado and Bryce Harper continued to climb toward a boiling point. The Phils remain in talks with both players and are eager to get a deal with whoever comes and gets it.

Hernandez, 28, arrived in camp with manager Gabe Kapler’s faith as a leadoff man (see story) and a healthy right foot. He broke the foot on a foul ball last July and played through it.

“I’m not going to lie, it was tough playing with a broken foot,” he said. “It affected me every single way. But I was able to tolerate the pain. I had to because I wanted to help the team and I was able to make it through.”

Hernandez’ play suffered because of the injury. He finished with a .253 batting average, down from .294 the previous season, and his OPS dropped to .718 from .793. He struck out a career-high 155 times. Despite his struggles, he walked a career-high 95 times and maintained a solid .356 on-base percentage.

Hernandez has played with several different shortstops — Freddy Galvis, Scott Kingery, Asdrubal Cabrera — the last two seasons. He is eager play with newcomer Jean Segura and will spend the spring building a bond.

Who's the backup catcher?

Manager Gabe Kapler said Andrew Knapp was “in the driver’s seat,” to be the backup catcher. Veteran newcomer Drew Butera, who signed a minor-league contract earlier this month, will also be in the hunt for the job. Knapp appeared in 53 games behind the plate last season.

Rodriguez hurting

Veteran utility man Sean Rodriguez, in camp on a minor-league deal, did not participate in workouts Monday because of a sore knee. Kapler said Rodriguez was getting the knee checked.

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Inquisitive Phillies catching prospect Deivi Grullon shines early in camp

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Inquisitive Phillies catching prospect Deivi Grullon shines early in camp

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Just before 9 o’clock Monday morning, Deivi Grullon rose from his seat in the Phillies clubhouse, walked over to Jake Arrieta and asked if he had a minute.

Grullon, a young catcher in his first big-league camp, proceeded to pepper the former Cy Young Award winner with questions.

“It was an interesting conversation,” Grullon said through Spanish-language translator Diego Ettedgui later in the day. “I’m trying to learn as much as possible.”

Grullon spoke the word esponja.

Sponge.

It might have taken a little nerve for Grullon to approach Arrieta, but he explained that he has been encouraged to build a bond with pitchers. The day before, Grullon had been in the video room watching tape of Arrieta pitching in a game last season. He was curious about Arrieta’s thought process in attacking right-handed hitters with his sinker and was eager to learn about it, just in case he found himself catching the pitcher this spring. Arrieta was gracious and more than willing to fill up the sponge. During the conversation, Arrieta reached into his locker, grabbed a baseball and showed Grullon several different pitch grips.

The early-morning clubhouse scene proved to be a fitting backdrop to the day because, later on, manager Gabe Kapler raved about what he’d seen from Grullon in the first week of workouts. Kapler had been impressed by Grullon’s raw power — especially to the opposite field — at the plate and his willingness to work hard on framing pitches behind it.

“There had been a little bit of information presented to me that his concentration level waned from time to time,” Kapler said. “I have not seen that. I have actually seen the concentration super high. The work he’s done with (catching instructors) Craig Driver and Bob Stumpo has been really good. They’ve seen improvement in just four or five days.

“This is a guy that from a raw talent perspective, our player development staff has been excited about for a couple of years. He’s kind of stood out so far.”

Grullon, who turned 23 earlier this week, is powerfully built at 5-10 and 235 pounds. He was signed for $575,000 out of the Dominican Republic in the summer of 2012. The Phillies have long liked the power in his bat and in his throwing arm. He had a strong season at Double-A Reading in 2018, hitting .273 with a .825 OPS, 21 homers and 59 RBIs in 326 at-bats.

The Phils rolled the dice and left Grullon unprotected in the Rule 5 draft in December. No team selected him and he is slated to be the No. 1 catcher at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. It will be a good test and if he passes it, the Phillies will likely have to protect him next winter.

In the meantime, Grullon is happy to be in his first big-league camp, happy to be making an impression and soaking up all the knowledge he can.

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