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Phillies: 2022’s Remaining Decisions

 

By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While Philadelphia Phillies fans have concerns for the upcoming season with the CBA (collective bargaining agreement), the pandemic dominates the news. Realistically, though, some organizations paid the piper by meeting the asking price of or overpaying for top free agents. 

 

Negotiations Ahead:

The Phillies faithful look at the talent menu and gravitate to the top available stars. But when they sign players for $20 million a year, even deep-pocketed franchises must adhere to some flexible budget. Yes, the cost is relevant.   

IN OTHER WORDS:

“You can't reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.” - Mark Twain

While January slowly inches into February, some doubts will increase due to a frozen stove league. But a February scramble will bookend last December’s deadline. Basically, players will have a month to sign with clubs mostly unwilling to overpay.    

Going with the latest MLB proposal of $214 million CBT (competitive-balance threshold), the Fightins are currently at $189.2 million AAV (average annual value) with $24.8 million AAV left after having an active 26. But that figure includes $600 thousand AAV (MLB minimum) for each youngster they can deduct for every star acquired.     

During his 40-minute presser in October, Dave Dombrowski, POB (president of baseball operations), indicated his needs: a closer, a leadoff hitter, a center fielder, and a right-handed bat with power. Unfortunately, the asking prices, contractual lengths, and competition can either force a mistake or a plan B.  

To illustrate, Starling Marte wanted $50 million for three or four summers last July. But he had finished strong for the Oakland A’s, and his new price rose to $80 million for four campaigns. However, the New York Mets inked him for $78 million: Did they even negotiate? 

Possible Acquisitions:

For naysayers, Kyle Schwarber isn’t a leadoff man, not worth $20 million per 162, and not a good fit for the Phils. But his confidence and a pennant race fueled his success in Boston; though, the Red Sox have only $6.6 million AAV to re-sign him without going $9.4-$13.4 million AAV over the projected new CBT.                     

Phillies Targeted Left Fielder:

Kyle Schwarber, 28.5:

  • 2021: 113 Gms., 471 PA, a .266 Avg., 32 HR, 71 RBI, a .928 OPS, a 3.1 fWAR and a 145 wRC+ (overall offensive production with 100 as average).
  • Batting 1st: 101 AB, a .297 Avg., 17 HR and 30 RBI.
  • Boston: 134 AB, a .291 Avg., 7 HR and 18 RBI.

Basically, many view his overall numbers and feel Dombrowski can find a leadoff bat with speed because they won’t accept anyone other than that. Barring an exorbitant offer, though, Cedric Mullins, Bryan Reynolds and Ketel Marte are unavailable and the future of those organizations. Execs aren’t magicians!                        

In the one hole, Schwarber averaged .297 with 17 HR and 30 RBI, but doubting Thomases can say it’s a small sample size: It is. Unfortunately, the other two options are to go with in-house outfielders or gut the farm if the Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles and/or Arizona Diamondbacks have interest.      

Put yourself in the mind of the opposing hurler! Would you rather pitch to Schwarber or Bryce Harper? And if you give Schwarber tosses to mash, he will, but Harper with Schwarber on base is a bigger threat. Ergo, he launched bombs with Juan Soto behind him, so Schwarber isn’t an unrealistic choice. 

For now, Schwarber’s price range is $16-20 million for three seasons, and the POB was pushing hard to ink him prior to the lockout. However, Schwarber probably felt he could receive a higher proposal. But front offices for his market aren’t yet willing to commit more than the Phillies and may not after the lockout either.                     

With the midpoint being $18 million annually, Dombrowski most likely prefers that amount, while Schwarber’s agent wants the asking price of $20 million for each 162. But the figure will depend on the competition and the new CBT, plus the red pinstripes believe they will have the leverage to negotiate.  

Until Opening Day, a deal for Kevin Kiermaier will be another reason to question management unless it succeeds. But one bad month will sour some locals on him because they already prefer someone else. Translation: Fans demand more regardless. However, the top trade possibilities probably won’t be on new teams.        

If the Tampa Bay Rays’ swap doesn’t work, the Phillies may turn to less expensive options: Raimel Tapia, Randal Grichuk, Brett Gardner, Manuel Margot, Kevin Pillar, Danny Santana, Jarrod Dyson, Ramón Laureano, Víctor Robles and Max Kepler. And some aren’t better than in-house outfielders. Yes, not better!        

With two-years control, Keirmier, who averaged .259 in 2021, isn’t the top-shelf hitter the faithful prefer; but he would bat at the bottom of the lineup. And his $8.9 million AAV along with $18 million AAV for Schwarber would provide the Fightins with a leadoff hitter and a strong center field defender.  

So, $26.9 million AAV would put the red pinstripes $900 thousand AAV over the threshold with the ability to spend $4 million AAV for any March bargains. But some believe Kiermaier is injury-prone because he plays all out, although center field is a must defensive position for contenders.           

From the Rays’ point of view, they want the Phils to take Kiermaier’s entire pact and receive a prospect with possibilities. But Dombrowski might prefer to absorb half of his salary with decent talent headed to Tampa Bay. Yes, dealing with the Rays is certainly a tug-of-war. 

The middle ground is a Phillies top 20-30 organizational player with Tampa Bay eating half of Kiermaier’s contract. Unfortunately, this will be a battle for every single inch, and this is where experience negotiating will make a huge difference. But the worst part is some fans will quickly reject this trade if it happens.

Normally, a thumbs-down requires no research, effort or time: less than a minute. And it’s why articles with pie-in-the-sky predictions offer only temporary hope. However, variables (injuries, the pandemic, attendance and luck) mean three NL East rivals have a shot. Did everybody, realistically, predict the Atlanta Braves last April? 

 

NEXT:

2022’s Spenders vs. the Phillies

 

Rsz_the_bank_phl

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