FanPost

Cost Certainty: What Does It Mean?

 

So the Phils have unloaded a trio of three-year deals in the past few days on Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz. While the three players earned the money with their play in the last two years, and the front office has achieved cost certainty into 2011 and 2012, there's a good chance the team will look tremendously different when the three are heading into 2012, the final year of their contracts. Let's take a look, after the jump.

2011 commitments

Starters:
Roy Halladay - $20 million
Cole Hamels - 9.5
Blanton - 8.5
J.A. Happ - 1st arb/4
Kyle Kendrick - 1st arb/2.5

Relievers:
Brad Lidge - 12
Danys Baez - 2.75
Ryan Madson - 4.83
J.C. Romero - 4.5
RP - OPEN Scott Mathieson? - 1st arb/1.5
RP - OPEN Antonio Bastardo?
RP - OPEN

Regulars:
Jimmy Rollins - 8.5
Placido Polanco - 5.4
Victorino - 7.5
Chase Utley - 15.286
Ryan Howard - 20
Raul Ibanez - 12.1
Ruiz - 3 (avg)
RF - OPEN (Domonic Brown?/Ben Francisco)

Bench:
Ross Gload - 1.6
Francisco - 1st arb/2.5
Brian Schneider - 1.625
Juan Castro - .75
OPEN

Subtotals: 17 contracts ~ $137.8 million, 3 arbitration ~ $10.5 million

Total: 20 players controlled ~ $148.3 million, could go up to $149.8 with league-minimum contracts for Brown, Bastardo, Mathieson. Ruiz's deal is probably backloaded, meaning there might be about $500k of savings from this projection on the actual deal.

I see the Phillies pushing their payroll to $150 million or so for 2011. Jayson Werth is gone unless the team can move Ibanez or Lidge. $4.5 million for Romero hurts, too.

AND

2012 payroll

Starters:
Halladay - 20
Hamels - last arb/10
Blanton - 8.5
Happ - 2nd arb/6
Kendrick - 2nd arb/4 OR prospect (Phillippe Aumont/Vance Worley/J.C. Ramirez/Trevor May)

Relievers:
Lidge - 12.5/1.5 buyout
Bastardo - controlled
Mathieson - 2nd arb/2.5
OPEN - Aumont??
OPEN
OPEN
OPEN

Regulars:
Utley - 15.286
Victorino - 9.5
Polanco - 6.4
Ruiz - 3
1B - OPEN, no one in minors who projects here
SS - open, likely Rollins @ 8 or so
LF - open, likely Francisco - 2nd arb/5
RF - open, likely Brown - controlled

Bench:
OPEN
OPEN
OPEN
OPEN
OPEN

Subtotals: 7 contracts ~ $75.17 million, 3 arbitration ~ $23.5 million, 3 controlled ~ $1.5 million,
Totals: 14 commitments ~ $100.19 million

Here is where some drastic changes are likely to occur. Continued good health and performance should allow the Phillies to remain very competitive through the 2011 season, but the bill from two years of dealing prospects away might need to be paid in 2012. It's possible the team could, with smart deals and cheap talent percolating up from the minors, continue to be outstanding, but 2012 and 2013 could also mean a big step back from a decade of winning.

A few guesses for 2012: Lidge will be bought out for 1.5 million (against a 12.5 million salary) and Rollins will come back for 8 million (34 y.o.), so that will drop the payroll to $97 million, with a Ryan Howard-sized black hole of production at first base. I'm also guessing that Francisco will be a full-time player in left, at least until Tyson Gillies or Anthony Gose is ready for the show. Domonic Brown should be entrenched in right field at this point as well. I think that the front office would non-tender Kendrick rather than pay him 4-5 million to be the fifth starter.

Also of note: there's definitely room in the payroll for Werth in 2012 if they can squeeze him into 2011 somehow, either by moving Lidge or Ibanez. It probably comes down to a decision between Werth and Howard, as both will command similar money. Both play premium offensive positions, and Werth especially provides great value in the field and on the basepaths.

However, the rub is that Werth is also more organizationally replaceable with the team's glut of OF talent in the minors. There are literally no corner infield prospects in the Phillies organization who can be projected as major-league players outside of 18-year old Jonathan Singleton, who's best case scenario is a 2013 arrival anyways. So I figure the Phillies try to get Howard signed for 2012-2014 at about $22 million per and have Howard hold down the spot until Singleton is ready.

Also key for the team is the internal development of various reliever types. Because so much money is tied up in so many places, the club can't afford to throw money at relievers for 2011 and 2012. The performance of Bastardo and Mathieson this year is key, because a solid 2010 from both of those guys means there's only one spot to fill in the pen for 2011.

B.J. Rosenberg and Michael Schwimer also figure in this discussion and could contribute in 2011 or certainly 2012.

The emergence of a dominant, young, cheap arm in the back of the pen could really free up space in 2011 payroll by providing an internal replacement for Lidge. If Lidge bounces back in 2010 and Mathieson (or Bastardo/Rosenberg/Schwimer/Aumont) shows he's ready to be a closer type, $11.5 of payroll space could be cleared by trading Lidge, which in turn can be thrown at either Howard or Werth.

Note: this is my best guess at what the salary situation could look like in a few years. I got the salary information from David Murphy's excellent High Cheese blog for the Daily News and by averaging the recent deals. Obviously, trades/injuries/surprise performers can and will impact what the team looks like in 2011 and 2012. This is just one bored man's guesses.

Edit: found some more contract info at Cot's Contracts and updated accordingly.

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