2023 Phillies: Speedy Recovery

The MLB Winter Meetings usually have some signings and trades because the groundwork has reached the final stages. Moreover, two organizations usually pay the asking price or more for a specific star, but this offseason is the exact opposite. Some franchises, including the Philadelphia Phillies, used a new strategy, while others changed theirs.


Year Two of Two:


Last winter, the Phillies exceeded the luxury tax limit by $16.4 million AAV (average annual value) for a 20 percent tax and are presently over by $20.2 million AAV with a 30 percent penalty: Deep-pocked clubs use the two-straight-summer approach. But three 162s in a row have a 50 percent tax, and most teams will drop below 2024’s $237 million AAV for a reset.

Put Another Way:

“Ain’t only three things to gambling: knowing the 60-40 end of the proposition, money management, and knowing yourself.” – Puggy Pearson

Why did the winter meetings produce myriad free-agent signings with higher price tags? Steve Cohen. To illustrate, the New York Mets are currently at $390.3 million AAV for 29 players. Now, the top penalty level is $293 million AAV: $393 million AAV is $100 million AAV over for a 90 percent tax of $90 million for that alone.

Phillies and other franchises Luxury Tax history

Over the last 18 full years, excluding 2020:

NYY$357.3 million16 of 18$291.8 million$8.9 million2
LAD$211.7 million*7 of last 9$232.9 million$03**
NYM$29.9 million1$390.3 million$111.1 million2
PHL$2.6 million1$253.2 million$6.3 million2
ATL$00$239.7 million$1.3 million1

* Except for 2020.

** If they exceed the CBT.

This organization is running their club like a fan would: unlimited and immediate spending and an old-school manager. However, there’s an ignored downside to this thinking: knowing how to lose (lopsided games). And even if a franchise has 100 triumphs, it still will suffer 62 defeats.

The Atlanta Braves’ plan is inking their stars to long-term deals. However, they’ve reached $239.7 million AAV. And they are –currently– over the $233 million CBT (competitive balance threshold) by $6.7 million AAV. To replace Dansby Swanson’s bat, though, they now have catcher Sean Murphy and can start both receivers due to the DH.

Braves Offensive Differential:

Sean Murphy, 28:

  • 2022: 148 Gms., 612 PA, .250, 18 HR, 66 RBI, a .759 OPS, a 5.1 fWAR and a 100 wRC+ (0% over overall offensive production with 100 as average for the Oakland A’s).

Travis d’Arnaud, almost 34:

  • 2022: 107 Gms., 426 PA, .268, 18 HR, 60 RBI, a .791 OPS, a 3.9 fWAR and a 120 wRC+ (20% over overall average offensive production).

Dansby Swanson, almost 29:

  • 2022: 162 Gms., 696 PA, .277, 25 HR, 96 RBI, a .776 OPS, a 6.4 fWAR, a 116 wRC+ (16% over overall average offensive production), 18 SB and 7 CS.

Skippers should rest their stars to keep them fresh for September and October, but the Metropolitans Buck Showalter played his top offensive regulars in 161 and 160 games. Meanwhile, the Braves Brian Snitker is also an old-fashioned manager: Their supporters complained about not resting his everyday nine in blowout contests.

The end result was the Bravos’ 2-5 finish, while the Mets had a 1-5 mark versus Atlanta and the wild-card San Diego Padres. For the Braves, they went 1-2 against the Miami Marlins after sweeping New York (NL) and a postseason 1-3 versus the Fightins. The Metropolitans, though, had failed to beat Atlanta and won only one against the Padres in Queens.

Managing a player’s workload determines their effectiveness in the final 30 contests. For instance, Atlanta’s front office had decided on a six-man rotation in 2021’s second half, and they were fresh for the World Series. Locally, Aaron Nola had recorded a fresh 2.36 ERA for September and October but struggled in his final three of five playoff starts.


Offseason Blitz:


Dave Dombrowski, PBO (president of baseball operations), struck on the winter meetings’ first day with a $300 million agreement with Trea Turner. Realistically, many front offices compensated for Cohen’s anticipated spending with more dollars and years. With Turner, the PBO offered $32 million over the national prediction with three additional seasons.

The new shortstop is a .300 hitter and base-stealing threat signed with new rules on pickoff throws, larger bases and Bryce Harper’s absence in mind. Moreover, he’ll probably lead off due to Kyle Schwarber’s slow starts before June. In 2022’s lineup, Harper averaged .286 and Alec Bohm batted .280. Well, the Phils needed a solid .300 stick.

According to a national publication, Taijuan Walker had earned a free-agent forecast of $52 million for four summers but received $72 million from the red pinstripes. Yes, agreeing two days after Turner during the annual powwows appears to be an overpayment. But it isn’t as blatant as Xavier Boegarts’ $280 million pact for 11 campaigns with the Friars.

Phillies Pitching Stats:

Taijuan Walker, 30.5: 

  • 2021’s First Half: 17 Gms. (1 relief), 94 ⅔ Inn., 7-3 and a 2.66 ERA.
  • 2021’s Second Half: 13 Gms., 64 ⅓ Inn., 0-8 and a 7.13 ERA.
  • 2022’s First Half: 16 Gms., 91 ⅔ Inn., 7-2 and a 2.55 ERA.
  • 2022’s Second Half: 13 Gms., 65 ⅔ Inn., 5-3 and a 4.80 ERA.

In 2021’s second half, Walker went 0-8 with a 7.13 ERA due to his increase from 26 1/3 to 159 innings. But he went 5-3 with a 4.80 ERA after 2022’s All-Star break. Besides, he and Turner will be important in April and May to keep the Phillies from losing divisional ground. But going from 157 to 180 frames with a managed workload could provide endurance.

Southpaw Matt Strahm plugs a hole in the pen’s backend for the seventh and eighth innings. Last season, he had a 3.83 ERA for 50 games and had 13 holds and four saves for 44 2/3 frames. And his $15 million contract over two seasons is the current rate for better setup men.

Will Craig Kimbrel be Brad Lidge 2.0? Well, when the Fightins picked up Lidge, he wasn’t Lights Out. But if Kimbrel can have a banner 162, he could receive a multi-year pact in free agency after this prove-it summer: $10 million for ’23. That stated, Kimbrel did not fare well with the Chicago White Sox in the eighth inning. So, he will close!

Phillies Closers:

Brad Lidge: 

  • 2007: 66 Gms., 67 Inn., a 3.36 ERA, 19 Saves, 7 Holds, 8 BS, 70.4 Save Pct. and a 0.8 fWAR with the Houston Astros).
  • 2008: 72 Gms., 69 ⅓ Inn., a 1.95 ERA, 41 Saves, 0 BS, 100 Save Pct. and a 2.2 fWAR with the Phillies).

Craig Kimbrel, 34.5: 

  • 2022: 63 Gms., 60 Inn., a 3.75 ERA, 22 Saves, 2 Holds, 5 BS, an 81.5 Save Pct. and a 0.9 fWAR with the Los Angeles Dodgers).

For ’23, he had 22 saves in 27 opportunities, a 3.75 ERA in his 63 appearances and 60-frame tally. But he had a 3.00 ERA in 25 outings from Aug. 1 through season’s end for 24 innings. In fact, his inking has pushed the Phils’ AAV payroll to $253.2 million, which now exceeds the $233 million and $253 million thresholds.

Phillies AAV Payroll for 2023:

The CBA (collective bargaining agreement) with a $233 million CBT. This table adds $20 million AAV to $253 million AAV for exceeding the first CBT.

$187.1 million*Starting Point for 32 players.
**$2.1 millionA backup catcher, a reserve and 1 middle reliever.
$189.2 million35 players
BALANCE FOR CBT$43.8 million
Trea Turner$27.3 million
Taijuan Walker$18 million
Matt Srahm$7.5 million
***Jake Cave$1.2 million
Craig Kimbrel$10 million
TOTAL ADDS$64 million
TOTAL$253.2 million
LUXURY TAX AMOUNT$20.2 million

* 14 players on the Phillies 40-man roster.

** Could be 3 of Garrett Stubbs, Darick Hall, Nick Maton and/or Jake Cave.

*** Left-handed-hitting left fielder.

The red pinstripes with Turner and Walker have two stars to prevent a slow start and are at their spending limit for 2023. So, the trade route could be the Phillies avenue for July’s needs. But though Dombrowski receives all the credit, general manager Sam Fuld and Assistant GMs Ned Rice and Jorge Valandia have done the bulk of the legwork.

Since 2003, the New York Yankees have won the 2009 championship, and the Los Angeles Dodgers were victorious in 2020. Yes, they were the organizations paying the most in penalties, but the Mets under Cohen alone will be third at campaign’s end. And the new owner will reach $151 million after ’23 according to Cot’s Baseball.

In 1979, the Fightins had signed Pete Rose, but the Pittsburgh Pirates won the Fall Classic. And New York (NL) had inked Johan Santana for 2008, but the Phillies emerged victorious. Yes, 2011’s four aces had looked like a shoo-in for the title, but the St. Louis Cardinals were triumphant. In Queens, the fans again expect to buy the World Series. Just like last year.



NEXT: 4 Shortstops And The 2023 Phillies

After being in the hospital for three weeks, I’m now continuing my rehabilitation at home.