|Frandsen winning an April game against the Royals.
Photo by Richard Wilkins Jr.
That would leave two slots, a starting pitcher and reliever, if you believe this team is done then. They have about $34 million left before the luxury tax kicks in, and $7-10 million of that is tied up in benefits, incentives, and call-ups. So figure the Phillies have about $24-27 million to work with. In other words, the Phillies can go sign another $20 million starter, if they want. The money is there.
So, they can, but will they and should they? Some folks who commented yesterday said that the Phillies were right to not give out a big contract this winter so far, and shouldn't going forward. Not to Tanaka. Not to Jimenez. Not to Garza. Not to Colon. Not to Santana. To no one. Their argument has merit- the Phillies are a mess, in part, because of a bunch of big, long, bad contracts. Their approach isn't grounded in reality though. $155 million teams cannot "rebuild." Economics dictate that. $155 million teams need to contend. They need to fill the seats. Teams with $155 million payrolls have guys like Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and teams carrying around that kind of pitching value have to contend, or trade those guys to re-stock. The Phillies will not be doing that. Not after re-signing Utley and Ruiz. Not after signing Marlon Byrd. Not after signing Miguel Gonzalez. These are not moves that teams expecting to lose, would go and make. Sure, they're sending mixed signals with bringing back Mayberry, Kendrick, and Frandsen, but the total payroll being very high means the Phillies ownership would expect them to contend, and fill seats, or to be trading away the big guys from this roster.
In short, the money is there to get a top end of the rotation pitcher right now. The team could use that kind of arm to contend. Hopefully this will happen, and we'll have reason to be a little bit happier with this off-season.