By Chad Flood
Special to TTB
Chad Flood is a regular poster on the Dave Matthews Ban fan forum, AntsMarching.org. Flood is an avid poster in the sports forums, mainly the Philadelphia Phillies thread. He’s just another fan like the rest of us who wants to talk about his beloved Fightin’ Phils.
Just because the 2011 edition of the Philadelphia Phillies are in the midst of another successful campaign — one that will hopefully take us on a journey into the early days of November — doesn’t mean we can’t take a moment to consider the future of our Fightins.
Much has been discussed in recent weeks about what may happen next season, with a couple big name players slotted to enter the free agent pool.
In a recent interview with 97.5 The Fanatic, Jimmy Rollins made it clear that he didn’t believe in the mythical “hometown discount” (going so far as to suggest he’ll be looking for a 5-year deal), and Cole Hamels is throwing his way to a nice paycheck for next year and beyond. Thanks to the good folks over at Cot’s Baseball Contracts, we can start to formulate a vision for next season.
At the moment, 11 current players are guaranteed a combined $112,903,000 in 2012:
Cliff Lee – $21.5MM
Roy Halladay – $20MM
Ryan Howard – $20MM
Chase Utley – $15.286MM
Joe Blanton – $10.5MM
Shane Victorino – $9.5MM
Placido Polanco – $6.417MM
Carlos Ruiz – $3.7MM
Jose Contreras – $2.5MM
Roy Oswalt – $2MM (buyout; $16MM if he plays; $1MM if he opts out himself)
Brad Lidge – $1.5MM (buyout)
Assuming the Phillies bring back all their league minimum guys (i.e. those not yet eligible for salary arbitration), and the league minimum stays at $414,500 next year, you can tack on roughly $2,487,000 between Antonio Bastardo, Domonic Brown, David Herndon, Michael Martinez, John Mayberry, Jr. and Vance Worley.
In addition, several players will be eligible for salary arbitration next year: Ben Francisco, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Scott Mathieson, Pete Orr, Wilson Valdez and Mike Zagurski. Ignoring the biggest piece of this puzzle in Hamels for a moment, arbitration could cost the Phils upwards of $7.5MM.
Six more players will become free agents at the end of 2011: Danys Baez, Ross Gload, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Madson, Jimmy Rollins and Brian Schneider. It seems safe to say that Baez, Gload, Ibanez and Schneider will all be gone.
With a self-imposed cap of $175MM (I admittedly don’t have a source on this but have heard that number several times), the Phillies will likely have around $52MM at their disposal for next season. Sounds like a good amount to play with, right? It might not be.
Starting with Hamels, the Phils will likely want to lock his left arm up before arbitration becomes an issue, and word around baseball is that he’s looking for something in the range of 5-years/$100MM (which, like Howard, will probably be back-loaded based on his age). With that in mind, a safe estimate for Hamels’ price next season would be around $15MM. Tack on an every-day left fielder at $10MM a year, and the Phillies will be left with $27MM between Rollins (or another shortstop), Madson (if they bring him back), and a couple relievers and bench players.
What happens from here is anyone’s guess. For Rollins, it’s safe to say that his presence will cost at least $11MM. Madson could command around $10MM a year, but with the recent emergence of youngsters Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes, and the rumors of a Heath Bell trade in the works, Madson’s importance to the club may have seriously diminished.
If I were the Phillies’ GM, and God willing someday I will be, I do what I can to bring Rollins back, let Madson walk, bolster the bullpen with a couple veteran arms, and ensure that Ryan Howard has some solid right-handed protection in the five-hole moving forward.
Then again, right now the Fightins are sitting atop the baseball standings with no signs of slowing down. Who cares about next year?