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The Reshuffled Roster: an Overview

For a 68 year-old who has borne the nickname "Stand Pat," new Phillies GM Pat Gillick hasn't shown an excess of caution or risk aversion in his first month on the job. Just in the last week and a half, Gillick has overturned about 20 percent of the roster, parting ways with predecessor Ed Wade's two biggest acquisitions while signaling new commitments to defense, depth, and restocking a depleted minor-league system.

With the Winter Meetings set to open in Dallas this week, Gillick might well have more changes in store. So this is as good a time as any to step back and assess what's happened thus far, focusing on the roster and the payroll. (Most salary estimates here are linked from Cot's Baseball Contracts--an excellent site we're adding to the permanent TGP blogroll, at bottom right.)

Let's start with those to whom we've bid, or soon will bid, a fond fairewell:

Pos Name 2005 Salary (in millions)
C Todd Pratt $0.75
1B Jim Thome $11.5
OF Kenny Lofton $3.1
RP Billy Wagner $9.0
RP Ugueth Urbina $4.0

Pratt seems likely to sign elsewhere, whether or not the Phils offer him arbitration; if they do, it will be solely for the purpose of getting a draft pick next June. The same is almost certainly true for Lofton, who's out of a job with the acquisition of Aaron Rowand and the emergence of Shane Victorino, and Urbina, who probably sealed his fate in Philly with that interesting legal entanglement in Venezuela. These five players combined to earn about $28.35 million in 2005. As the Yankees paid not quite half Lofton's salary, and the Tigers picked up about a third of Urbina's as a result of the in-season trade, the Phillies only paid about $25 million for them all. And of course, the Thome trade obligates the team to pick up $22 million of the remainder of his deal, so the real savings for the Phils' 2006 payroll come to approximately $18 million.

Gillick has obligated not quite two-thirds of that amount on the five players he has added thus far:

Pos Name 2006 Salary (in millions)
C Sal Fasano $0.43
3B Abraham Nunez $1.7
OF Aaron Rowand $3.2
RP Tom Gordon $4.5
RP Julio Santana $0.8

In all, the Phils now have 15 players under contract for an approximate total of $82 million, including the money going to Chicago for Thome and the $9 million (OUCH) we'll pay Randy Wolf to recuperate through at least the all-star break. Adding in young players they effectively control for 2006--a group that includes Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Ryan Madson, Robinson Tejeda, Gavin Floyd and Geoff Geary--gets us to approximately $85 million.

Still to be determined are the price tags for arbitration-eligible Brett Myers, Jason Michaels, Vicente Padilla, and Aaron Fultz; that the Phils would non-tender any of those four ranges from unlikely to unthinkable. I'm guessing that Myers will command about $2 million next year; Michaels $1.4 million; Padilla $4 million; and Fultz $1 million. I don't actually think they'll all suit up for the Phillies in 2006--Michaels probably won't be with the team at this time next week (see below)--but if they are, that brings the team's total obligation to over $93 million. If the Phillies want to keep their payroll around the $95 million they spent for salaries in 2005, that would mean Gillick is all but finished--a couple cheap relievers from home-grown column A (Yoel Hernandez, Eude Brito) and/or the slightly more expensive retread column B (Paul Quantrill, Ben Weber) would fill out the roster.

That said, I don't think Gillick is finished. The Phillies still have excess in the outfield (Michaels, Victorino, and Endy Chavez are currently fighting for two reserve slots) and, in a sense, the starting rotation (Padilla, Tejeda, Floyd, and possibly Ryan Madson and Cole Hamels are the current candidates for the last two rotation jobs, and Gillick has repeatedly said he wants another starter), and might even still look to move a big contract like Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, or Mike Lieberthal. It's certainly possible that players like Michaels and Padilla could be dealt for a promising minor-leaguer or two; given the expected super-heated trading atmosphere this week in Texas, a bigger deal--maybe Abreu or Burrell for a prominent starting pitcher like Barry Zito--is certainly conceiveable as well.

The Mets have added major talent already this off-season, and the Braves surely have a move or two at the ready with Chipper Jones agreeing to restructure his contract. Gillick said when he was hired that his job was finding a way to "squeeze five more wins" out of the Phillies roster. The view here is that his moves thus far have strengthened the organization by shedding salary and adding two very promising minor-league pitchers in the Thome deal--but it's far from clear that the Phillies' best 25 men today represent an upgrade over the roster that finished the 2005 season. Presumably, Pat Gillick has more work to do in pursuit of those five extra victories.