Phillies owner John Middleton recently reiterated what he's been saying for years: The Phillies will spend aggressively this offseason.
This time, he was a bit more colorful about it.
"We're going into this expecting to spend money," Middleton told USA Today at the owners meetings this week. "And maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.
"We just prefer not to be completely stupid."
You know the usual suspects: Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. But the Phillies' needs go beyond offense and there is a top-tier left-hander on the market who could boost this rotation (see story).
Harper turned down a $300 million offer from the Nationals, so it's safe to assume he's expecting a deal closer to the $350-400 million range, one with an annual value in the neighborhood of $40 million.
It's hard to gauge where Machado's price tag will be and whether his October comments affected his market. Will he get slightly less than Harper because of it? Will he get more than Harper because of the position(s) he plays?
Including guaranteed contracts, projected arbitration figures and the raises due to pre-arbitration players, the Phillies' 2019 payroll is in the vicinity of $110 million right now. But that figure is cut in half in 2020 and next-to-nothing in 2021, when the only two guaranteed deals on the Phillies' books belong to Odubel Herrera and Scott Kingery.
Aaron Nola will have to be paid sometime before 2022, and Rhys Hoskins before 2024, but the Phils still have so much wiggle room.
Team president Andy MacPhail has been sure to remind Middleton and others that there is baseball to be played beyond 2019. But it's not often a free-agent class has headliners like this.
The Phils could feasibly afford both Harper and Machado, but things would get extremely tricky down the road when Harper, Machado, Nola and Hoskins are combining to make about $120 million per year between the four of them. Those are the kinds of long-term issues this front office has to consider and will consider.
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