Phillies

How much money comes off the books for Phillies this offseason?

How much money comes off the books for Phillies this offseason?

As we all wait for the managerial shoe to drop, let's take a look ahead at the Phillies' 2020 payroll commitments and who comes off the books this offseason:

Remaining contracts

Bryce Harper: 12 years, $300 million

Aaron Nola: 4 years, $55M

Jean Segura: 3 years, $45.55M

Andrew McCutchen: 2 years, $40M

Odubel Herrera: 2 years, $20.2M

Jake Arrieta: 1 year, $20M

Scott Kingery: 4 years, $19.5M

David Robertson: 1 year, $13M

Keep in mind that some Phillies have back-loaded deals. McCutchen made only $10 million of his $50 million deal in 2019. Herrera's cost rises each of the next two seasons. Nola's rises each of the next three.

In total, these eight players are set to earn $108 million combined in 2020. For luxury tax purposes — which accounts for the annual value of the contract rather than the yearly allocations — the number for those eight players is $114 million.

J.T. Realmuto's extension

Realmuto earned $5.9 million in 2019. Next season is his final year of arbitration eligibility. If they go to arbitration, Realmuto will earn more than $10 million. But the Phillies are prioritizing an extension, one that will likely reach nine figures.

Assuming Realmuto's extension averages $20 million per year, the Phillies' luxury tax number would be around $134 million before accounting for raises to their young players under team control.

Players due raises

Rhys Hoskins is not arbitration-eligible until after the 2020 season. He made $575,000 last season and will likely see a raise to the $1 million range.

This will be the first arbitration year for Zach Eflin, Andrew Knapp and Edubray Ramos. Eflin is the most likely of the three to be back.

It is the second arbitration year for Adam Morgan, Hector Neris and Vince Velasquez. Neris and Morgan will likely be back, while Velasquez is a toss-up.

It will be the third arbitration year for Realmuto, Maikel Franco and Jose Alvarez. Realmuto and Alvarez are currently set for free agency after the 2020 season.

Franco and Cesar Hernandez were Super Two players so both have four years of arbitration rather than three. This offseason will be Hernandez's fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility. He earned $7.75M in 2019. The number will likely rise to $9.5-10M in 2020. Hernandez is not worth $10 million. It is more likely the Phillies move on from him and start Scott Kingery at second base than pay Hernandez eight figures in 2020.

Still making close to league minimum

The Phillies' pre-arbitration players in 2020 are Hoskins, Adam Haseley, Ranger Suarez, Nick Pivetta, Nick Williams, Roman Quinn, Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano, Cole Irvin, Austin Davis, Enyel De Los Santos and Edgar Garcia, among a few others on the 40-man roster who haven't yet made it to the majors.

Pivetta and Williams could be gone. Both need changes of scenery.

Off the books

Contracts are set to expire for Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek, Juan Nicasio, Corey Dickerson, Brad Miller, Drew Smyly, Nick Vincent, Mike Morin, Blake Parker, Sean Rodriguez, Phil Gosselin, Logan Morrison and Jose Pirela.

There is an $8 million team option on Jason Vargas' contract that can be bought out for $2 million. The Phils seem likely to buy him out because they need to drastically improve the rotation and already have Eflin and Arrieta slotted into the back of it.

Jay Bruce is still under contract in 2020 but the Phillies are paying less than $2 million of it, with the Mariners paying the rest.

There is also an option on Jared Hughes' contract, but he certainly didn't pitch well enough to entice the Phils to bring him back for $3 million.

How far under the tax?

After adding up the salaries of the players still under contract, the players due raises and assuming Realmuto gets $20M per year, the Phillies' luxury tax number for 2020 would be right around $150 million before they make a single offseason signing or trade. The tax threshold for 2020 is $208 million. The tax for a team exceeding it for the first time is 20 percent for every dollar it goes over.

The Phillies have never exceeded the threshold but may have to in order to put together a team capable of competing with the Braves and Nationals next season. If push comes to shove, John Middleton and the Phillies' ownership group may do it.

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2020 Phillies schedule: Looking at long list of elite pitchers Phillies will face in 2020

2020 Phillies schedule: Looking at long list of elite pitchers Phillies will face in 2020

Bryce Harper spent the bulk of his video press conference last Friday discussing the unprecedented circumstances surrounding this 2020 MLB season. There were a lot of questions about health protocols, social distancing and doubt from some players that attempting to play this season is actually the right decision.

Harper talked a little baseball too. And one answer towards the end of the press conference stood out. 

He was asked whether he felt he'd have enough time in a three-week training camp featuring just three exhibition games to adequately prepare for the season. 

Harper acknowledged it would be a challenge, particularly given the Phillies’ regular season schedule.    

"East vs. East, are you kidding me?" Harper said of his team's 60-game slate consisting of solely NL East and AL East opponents. "We're going to face a lot of good teams, a lot of good organizations, a lot of good pitching. I went down each roster and was thinking to myself there could be 14 Cy Youngs in this East vs. East. I mean, that's crazy."

Harper's math is spot on. 

I identified 12 starting pitchers that the Phillies could face this season who have either won a Cy Young or are capable of pitching at a Cy Young level.

And if you add a pair of Harper's teammates — Aaron Nola, who finished third in the NL Cy Young voting in 2018, and Jake Arrieta, who won the NL Cy Young in 2015 — that brings the grand total of Cy Young caliber pitchers in this East vs. East format to ... 14. 

Just like Harper said. 

Let's run through all the big arms the Phillies could face in 2020. 

After a season-opening three-game series against the Marlins, the Phillies play four straight games against the Yankees. They'll almost certainly face Gerrit Cole and James Paxton during that four-game stretch. Cole, who signed a $324 million contract with New York in the offseason, is generally regarded as the most dominant starting pitcher in baseball. Paxton is fully recovered from a back injury in the spring and has been among the top starters in the American League over the last six years.

The Phillies get their first look at the Braves a week later. Atlanta's rotation features 22-year-old ace Mike Soroka and 36-year old veteran Cole Hamels. Soroka posted a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts last season, finishing sixth in the NL Cy Young voting and second in the NL Rookie of the Year race behind the Mets' Pete Alonso. Hamels has finished in the top 10 of the Cy Young voting four times in his career and remains an elite starter when healthy. 

The Mets come to town in mid-August, led by two-time reigning NL Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom. New York's rotation also includes Marcus Stroman, who finished in the Top 10 of the AL Cy Young voting three years ago and finished with a 3.22 ERA in 32 starts last season. 

The Phillies don't play the Nationals until late August. But their 10 games against Washington will feature a heavy dose of three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin, who finished fifth in the NL Cy Young race two years ago and 11th in the voting last season. 

If there's a team that has a “Big 3” comparable to the Nationals, it may be the Rays, who the Phillies visit in a three-game series to end the season. Blake Snell, Charlie Morton and Tyler Glasnow highlight Tampa Bay's rotation. Snell won the 2018 AL Cy Young, Morton finished third in the 2019 AL Cy Young race, and Glasnow is an emerging star who posted a 1.78 ERA in 12 starts last season.

Yikes. 

But there is a silver lining — the Phillies don't have to worry about Chris Sale, Luis Severino or Noah Syndergaard. They're all out for the season with injuries. 

Nonetheless, the Phillies' bats better be ready from the outset. They'll be put to the test early and often. 

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Bryce Harper has earned right to speak his mind on J.T. Realmuto's contract status

Bryce Harper has earned right to speak his mind on J.T. Realmuto's contract status

Bryce Harper provided the first memorable moment of Phillies summer camp on Wednesday afternoon. 

It wasn’t with a swing or a web gem, but rather it was two words that has everyone talking.

“Sign him!” 

That’s what Harper exclaimed as he returned to the dugout following a home run by J.T. Realmuto in an intrasquad game. 

Harper can claim to be a five-tool player, but you might be able to add a sixth tool to the arsenal because he’s been as effective a representative for Realmuto in contract negotiations as Jeff Berry, Realmuto’s agent. 

In addition to Wednesday’s on-field statement, Harper donned a t-shirt with Realmuto’s name and number during his initial workouts at Citizens Bank Park earlier this month. While Harper denied sending a message to the front office with his wardrobe, he did acknowledge that it would be “terrible and sad” if the Phillies were to lose Realmuto in free agency this offseason. 

If you want to argue that Harper’s actions and statement are an admirable attempt to help a teammate to a large pay day, that’s fair. It’s also likely that Harper views retaining Realmuto as the best path towards contention for the ballclub. 

The Phillies would be naive if they did not expect Harper to have a significant voice in team construction when they inked him to a 13-year, $330 million deal last year. Although it’s fair to assume they would prefer if Harper wasn’t hurting their negotiating position.  

Either way, a player of Harper’s stature and salary certainly has the right to speak his mind on roster matters.  

Let’s say Realmuto and the Phillies agree to a record-setting contract extension for a catcher. That would make the All-Star backstop the third nine-figure player on the Phillies’ payroll (Harper and Zack Wheeler). Keep in mind, this is an organization without a winning season since 2011 and that looks to be several key pieces away from true contention. 

Who knows where the Phillies will find themselves four years down the road? It’s possible Harper and Realmuto will have taken a late October ride or two down Broad Street in that time. It’s also possible that the club will have failed to take the next step in their development, the young pieces never reaching the level needed to contend. At that stage, the club could lack the flexibility to improve due its significant financial obligations. 

If the latter happens, let’s be clear: Harper has forfeited the right to justifiably complain about a perceived lack of commitment or a feeling of being misled about the intentions of ownership. It might be hyperbole to suggest the former NL MVP is forcing the Phillies’ hand with Realmuto, but he’s certainly making it known how he wants the team built. 

Harper does not appear to be that type of person that will turn on the Phillies if things do not go as hoped, but we’ve all been down this road before with unhappy superstars across the sporting landscape. 

It might not be an issue for today, but there’s a chance that day just may come.  

Stay tuned.

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