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Phillies: Vulture’s Market for 2020-21

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For this Philadelphia Phillies offseason, possible targets are embarking on an extreme buyer’s market, plus the dollar amounts and contractual lengths are just forming. Therefore, expect lowballing from most organizations due to 2020’s financial losses.   

 

Upside-down Bidding:

From the Phillies view, the early warning signs are present: Top-dollar and long-term proposals will be scarce even for elite stars. And if a regular didn’t receive a QO (qualifying offer), his club doesn't believe another team will offer $18.9 million per 162 for one or more campaigns. So, color this free agency blue.

IN OTHER WORDS:

“There are many roads to success but only one sure road to failure, and that is to try to please everyone else.” - Benjamin Franklin

In ‘20, every franchise lost money for a total of $2.7 billion minimum or $90 million each, but the Fightins are now claiming a $120 million downturn. Translation: Expect pandemic-discount offers for all except a few stars with many teams hoping to re-sign some players for less.              

While lower proposals will be the rule, contract lengths will be 1-4 years. Therefore, Marcus Stroman has a four-season projection, and James Paxton’s forecast is one summer. But one exception is JT Realmuto with a national prediction of five campaigns. 

For now, the early clues indicate organizations won’t be adding any luxury pieces when they have non-tendered players they want to re-sign for a reduced commitment. Or they’ll trade some regulars and replace them with MLB-minimum youngsters from the deal or through their pipeline.     

Basically, the first inkling for closers appeared when the Cleveland Indians placed Brad Hand on waivers. And 29 franchises did not claim him. So, this indicated his $10 million pact for 2021 was too high for every front office. In fact, his projected value is now $7 million for each of two seasons. 

The Phils could ink a hurler or two for the late innings at $7 million each, and they would add those pieces to a less expensive Hector Neris, southpaw Ranger Suarez, and two rookies for middle relief. Moreover, Vince Velasquez could be in the pen if they sign a starter, and a rebounding pitcher could complete the pen.                

 

Phillies Closer Targets:

Amount

Yrs.

Annual

Pitcher

Pitcher

Pitcher

Pitcher

$30 million

3

$10 million

Hendriks

     

$14 million

2

$7 million

Hand

Treinen

May

Rosenthal

$6 million

1

$6 million

Colome

     

 

Based on Cleveland’s decision to buyout Hand, the dollar expectation for him is $7 million each for two summers. Yes, it might be higher and/or longer, but it could also be for less money and a 162 only. For now, the red pinstripes like other clubs needing relievers will wait for the bullpen market to establish itself.                              

The range for end-game hurlers is $5-7 million with only Liam Hendriks’ forecast being $30 million for three campaigns: an extra season and $3 million more per 162. Apparently, the quality of these moundsmen doesn’t vary a lot, so the expected value is the same.                   

The New York Yankees will probably keep Zack Britton and rely on their relief corps to compensate for a weaker five-man staff. Realistically, they’ll drop $55 million by not re-upping most of their now free agents.   

Like most teams, the Phillies will not exceed the $210 million CBT (competitive-balance threshold) for a full 162 because free agents will be accepting corona-related discounts. Yes, they can re-up Realmuto for $25 million AAV (average annual value) and Didi Gregorius at $13 million AAV with $24.8 million AAV left.     

With Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler, the Fightins don’t need a top-of-the-rotation stud at the expense of spending $13-14 million AAV for two bullpen pieces. Ergo, their preference could be a younger starter like Tiajuan Walker at $8 million AAV.    

Depending on their pen acquisitions, management could take a chance on left-hander Paxton being completely healthy. But is he worth the gamble? Or Jake Odorizzi could be another starter the front office might pursue as a rebound candidate.   

 

Phillies Rotation Targets:

Amount

Yrs.

Annual

Pitcher

Pitcher

$128 million

4

$32 million

Bauer, 29.5

 

$68 million

4

$17 million

Stroman, 29.5

 

$39 million 

3

$13 million

Odorizzi, 30.5

Tanaka, 32

$18 million

2

$9 million

Quintana, 31.5

 

$10 million

1

$10 million

Paxton, 32

 

$16 million

2

$8 million

Walker, 28

Richards, 32.5

$12 million

1

$12 million

Kluber, 34.5

 

$8 million

1

$8 million

Morton, 37

 

$6 million

1

$6 million

Minor, 32.5

Wainwright, 39

 

According to a national publication, Gregorius will receive a $13 million offer for each of three summers. But would managing partner John Middleton be willing to re-up the shortstop for three campaigns? And even though he’s the top free-agent shortstop, $13 million AAV is reasonable.    

The red pinstripes, though, will still need a left-side bat with power to complement Bryce Harper, especially when they face right-handed closers and setup men. Unfortunately, the middle infield is where they have an offensive opening.         

The Phillies will have two other choices besides re-signing Gregorius. Yes, they could ink another middle infielder or stick with their original plan of Scott Kingery at the keystone. Remember, a player makes an impact in or after his third year, and Kingery has slightly over two seasons of experience.

For those blaming Middleton for not giving Realmuto $200 million for eight summers, doing so would invite his agent to raise the asking price accordingly. And other agents would demand top dollar to sign with the Fightins. So, it doesn’t just affect Realmuto; it also sets the tone for the future.       

The new owner of the New York Mets will surely bid more than the $125 million for five years projected for Realmuto. However, owner Steve Cohen won’t be anywhere near the $200 million that would be the highest contract for a catcher in MLB history: $41 million more than Buster Posey and $16 million more than Joe Mauer.     

Realmuto will basically field his offers before considering Middleton’s top proposal. Moreover, the Phils had probably suspected this even before COVID-19 upended the pay structure of the majors. Plus this situation is far from a resolved issue and could continue into early January.

When most major league organizations including the Yankees cut payroll, would you be unhappy if Middleton doesn’t substantially increase expenditures? Realistically, though, what will no owner do with their MLB franchise? Run it like a fan!   

 

NEXT:

Thorny Details for 2021’s Phillies Roster

Rsz_bullpen

 

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