Phillies

Updating Phillies' payroll — it's higher than you might think

Updating Phillies' payroll — it's higher than you might think

The Phillies opened last season with a payroll just under $96 million. Their average opening day payroll from 2016-18 was $95 million.

That figure has risen significantly with the acquisitions of Jean Segura and Juan Nicasio and the signings of Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson. 

Following the Robertson signing Thursday, the Phils' payroll is just over $142 million. This factors in projected 2019 salaries for their nine arbitration-eligible players, their pre-arbitration players and their players on the 40-man roster who will open the season in the minor leagues.

Player benefits, which also count toward the luxury tax, push that number to around $157 million. The luxury tax threshold is $206 million this upcoming season and it's calculated at the end of the season, not the beginning of it. Adding or subtracting money to the books throughout a season impacts that luxury tax figure.

The Phillies have never in their history exceeded the luxury tax threshold. A first-time offender is forced to pay a 20 percent tax on their overages. Exceed it two seasons in a row and the tax is 30 percent. Three or more consecutive seasons and it's 50 percent.

The luxury tax figure uses the annual average value of a player's contract. So, for example, Andrew McCutchen is making $10 million this season on a back-loaded deal, but his AAV is $16,666,666. That higher number is the one that counts toward the tax.

The Phillies can still fit another gigantic salary onto their books without having to worry too much about the luxury tax. If they're able to land Manny Machado or Bryce Harper for $35 million to $40 million per year, their payroll number would jump to the $195 million range.

In other words, there is still room to add a superstar and another useful player like a mid-rotation starting pitcher. Money could also be freed up if the Phillies move on from Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez or both. That duo is projected to make $14 million combined through arbitration this winter.

So again, including everything that counts toward the luxury tax, the Phillies are at around $157 million as of Jan. 4. It's the third-highest figure in the NL East, behind the Nationals ($192M) and Mets ($166M). The Braves are closer to $115 million.

Still a good amount of work for Matt Klentak and the Phillies' front office to do. They've improved the infield, outfield and bullpen this offseason, but those additions won't be as meaningful to many fans if the Phils fail to land Machado or Harper. 

They also need more starting pitching, even if it's just a No. 4 starter type for depth purposes. The Phillies could talk themselves into meaningful improvement from the young guys (Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez) and a bounce-back season from Jake Arrieta, but that's an everything-breaks-right scenario.

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At the Yard podcast: 3-batter rule, DH dynamic, NL East predictions

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NBCSP

At the Yard podcast: 3-batter rule, DH dynamic, NL East predictions

Ricky Bottalico and Corey Seidman discuss one big rule change, another on the horizon, and make their NL East predictions in the latest At the Yard podcast.

• How does the new 3-batter rule for relievers change their mentality?

• Which Phillies relievers does it affect the most?

• If the DH does come to the National League in the next two years, how would it help the Phillies?

• Both guys are still vehemently anti-DH.

• Fan Q&A.

• NL East win total predictions.

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The DH sucks but would undoubtedly help the Phillies

The DH sucks but would undoubtedly help the Phillies

The designated hitter coming to the National League is an inevitability. To some, it's a welcome inevitability. Personally, I hate it, but I acknowledge I'm probably outnumbered.

It's not about watching pitchers hit. That is the over-simplified one-line response from DH proponents. It is about many additional elements of strategy not having a DH adds. If you're a pitcher, it affects how you approach the 6-7-8-9 hitters. There is more thinking ahead. 

That goes for managers, too, who face the difficult of question of, "Do I pull Jacob deGrom with two outs and two on in the bottom of the sixth inning in a scoreless game for the extra offense?"

That doesn't happen in the AL. The Justin Verlanders of the world pitch until they're no longer effective. There is no difficult decision for the manager. 

There is also less need for a bench. AL teams sometimes run three-man benches. And plenty of AL bench players exist only as defensive replacements and/or pinch-runners.

But whatever. It's probably coming. Could be coming as early as 2021, according to Jim Bowden.

It would actually benefit the Phillies, though. The Phils face a potential logjam in the corner infield with Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm, Scott Kingery and Jean Segura. Only one of them can play third base. And Hoskins or Bohm would be at first base. If the DH came to the NL in 2021, the Phils could just slot Bohm into that position.

They could also use Hoskins, who isn't exactly an above-average defensive first baseman, as the DH. And toward the end of Bryce Harper's 13-year contract, his days of effective right field defense could be over and that may be the ideal spot for him.

It will be an adjustment when the NL rules change, and there will be some hard feelings, but the baseball world will probaby get over it within a few years. MLB has already adopted the three-batter rule for relievers, altered active rosters to 26 and prevented teams from utilizing their entire 40-man roster in September. These changes, in conjunction, are pretty significant too.

Subscribe and rate At The Yard:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies