The Phillies broke the $100 million mark in salaries for the first time ever in 2007. This was while building toward the second World Series victory in franchise history the following year.
For six years from 2010-15, the Phillies were above the $145 million mark each season in salaries spent on their final 40-man roster.
However, the Phillies situation is well-known to even the most casual fan. The core of the team that did all the winning during the prior decade had aged, pretty much all at once.
PHILLIES HAVE SHED A MASSIVE PAYROLL
The Phillies have spent the last two years unloading as many of the aging players as they could, and simply waiting for other big contracts to expire.
There have now been five consecutive non-winning seasons since the last big winner. That would be the 2011 team, which set the franchise all-time record by winning 102 games.
The payroll dipped below the $100 million mark for the first time since 2008 during this past season. The $88.647 million total spent on salaries for the 25-man Opening Day roster was the lowest figure since 2006.
As things stand entering the 2016 Winter Meetings, the Phillies have payroll obligations for 2017 totaling just $46.9 million.
Nearly one-quarter of that ($13.2 million) will be spent on one player, pitcher Matt Harrison. The lefty has never thrown and never will throw a single inning for the team.
The Phillies took on Harrison’s contract knowing that the likelihood was he would ever be able to pitch again in the big leagues. This was part of the cost to obtain a huge prospect bounty in the Cole Hamels trade with Texas.
The bulk of the rest of the Phillies’ salary commitment for next season will go to three players recently added. Jeremy Hellickson was brought back for $17.2 million. Howie Kendrick, obtain in the Darin Ruf deal, will earn $10 million. And reliever Pat Neshekwill be paid $6.5 million.
The Phillies are not obligated to any of those four players beyond next season. For the 2018 season and beyond there is nothing at all on the Phillies’ books at the current time.
BIG NAME TALENT WILL BE AVAILABLE SOON
The likelihood is that the Phillies will not be big spenders in this current free agent market. The simple fact is that there is not a great crop of available free agents this year.
Beginning next offseason, that could all change. Among the players currently scheduled to become free agents a year from now (current ages in parentheses) are position players Eric Hosmer (27), Mike Moustakas (28), Jay Bruce (29), and J.D. Martinez (29).
While those are some really good players, the real bounty begins the following season. Bryce Harper and Manny Machado each hit the market at age 26 in two years. The two superstars could become available in trades in the summer of 2018, if Washington and Baltimore are unable to sign them to extensions.
At some point during the 2019 and/or 2020 seasons, the likelihood is that superstar Mike Trout will become available in a trade. Trout becomes a free agent following the 2020 season, during which he will turn 29 years of age.
Phillies fans have been salivating over the possibility of bringing Trout home to the area for years now. Hailing from the Millville-Vineland area of South Jersey, Trout grew up a huge Phillies and Eagles fan.
The Angels will be under the specter of losing their superstar for nothing. They are going to come under increasing pressure in a couple of years to unload Trout for a prospect package.
The Phillies are building an impressive minor league system. Outfielder Mickey Moniak, turning 22 years old in May of 2020, could possibly highlight such a trade package.
The point is that, while the Phillies do indeed have money to spend right now, controlling owner John Middleton would be better served in waiting. In another year or two, patience in opening that fat wallet could pay massive dividends.
Until then, GM Matt Klentak will look for any opportunity to add good players at a reasonable price. There will be free agents who can be signed and players dealt for on reasonable short-term deals. The club owes the curre
The 2017 season is likely to once again be one in which the primary focus is on the continued development of their own prospects. But the Philadelphia Phillies are fast positioning themselves to once again be major players, and big spenders, as the end of the decade approaches.